Liberty Kid

"Very Good"

Liberty Kid Review


Many lives were thrown into tumult after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Liberty Kid tells the story of two of them, but they aren't soldiers, tragic widows, or prisoners. Instead, they're simply two high-school dropouts who lose their jobs flipping burgers at a Statue of Liberty snack bar when the monument is closed after 9/11. Soft-spoken Derrick (Al Thompson) and his more excitable best friend Tico (Kareem Savinon) are soon back in their South Williamsburg neighborhood with nothing to do but stand on line for Red Cross cash while they try to figure out what they're going to do next. As for the local employment situation: "Aint no jobs in the 'hood."

Derrick, who's the father of twin toddlers, calls himself a "visionary" and plans to get his GED to get the hell out of Brooklyn and go to college. (He's amused to find two army recruiters waiting to talk to all the test takers as they leave the exam room.) Tico sees a future in small-time drug dealing, and with bills to pay, Derrick reluctantly joins him. In one great scene, the two find themselves dealing at a quintessential Williamsburg hipster loft party. They clearly feel out of their element when surrounded by a bunch of overprivileged and overdressed white kids slumming on their streets.

Of course, crime doesn't pay, not even when the two stage a car collision to try an insurance fraud scheme, and before long they're be separated by circumstance and put through life's wringer in ways they never would have imagined.

Like Raising Victor Vargas a few years back or 2008's memorable Chop Shop, both of which also featured young New York Latinos trying to find their way in the world, Liberty Kid has a totally authentic, gritty, street-smart feel. Shot on grimy street corners, on the boardwalk at Coney Island, and in some very claustrophobic apartments, it's almost anthropological in its careful attention to colorful Brooklyn detail.

Thompson and Savinon are a terrific pair. In the "making-of" featurette, the producer says that when he saw their audition tape he felt they had stumbled onto "De Niro and Kietel." That's definitely overstating it, but they are totally watchable, Thompson for his slow burn and Savinon for his manic street jive. They both deserve big parts in bigger films.

Give me liberty or give me death.



Liberty Kid

Facts and Figures

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 9th January 2008

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Mike S. Ryan, Roger Kass

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