How entertaining? ★★★☆☆
Thought provoking? ★★☆☆☆
20 April 2013
This article is a review of GIMME THE LOOT.
“Where we’re going to get 500 dollars?” Sofia
Japes and scrapes in New York over two sweltering summer days. Teenagers genially making mischief have some big sneakers to fill, but mostly from the 1980s – FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, etc. GIMME THE LOOT, from writer-director debutant, Adam Leon, would not be out of place in a triple bill with them. Gangs and graffiti might make you think of THE WARRIORS, and while the characters here are refreshingly not-that-likable, they are believable and human, and not wish-fulfilment or stock stereotypes.
The opening 10 minutes sets up the plot economically and with energy – the two leads, Sofia and Malcolm, rob a store of a significant amount of its spray paints; and then we are shown a cable show, ‘All CTV Hour, interviewing some graffiti artists talking about nearly tagging the New York Mets’ home run apple. Twenty years on that taggers’ dream has never been realised, and remains the ultimate accolade - for the apple to rise during a baseball game defaced for the nation to see. Malcolm (Ty Hickson) and Sofia (Tashiana Washington) are a graffiti gang of only two, who regard themselves as artists. One day a rival crew defaces their work, a final insult, after what appears to be a catalogue of disrespect at worst, and non-acknowledgment of their skills at best.
A plan arises: “We’re trying to bomb the apple,” Malcolm. Not in a terrorist sense – “bombing” is slang for tagging. They feel this act of graffiti will elevate them in the eyes of their peers and beyond. The only stumbling block is the need for $500 to bribe someone who works at the stadium. And that’s when the adventures of Sofia and Malcolm begin, the hunt for a non-too-outrageous sum, but to those that have very little money it is far from an easy feat to accomplish.
For a lot of GIMME THE LOOT’s runtime, the two spilt up and try to each get $250; a mini-peregrination, which is skilfully made to feel like a Homeric epic. What especially fascinates about the film is the quiet moralism on display, without ever feeling a sense of didacticism or preaching. There are consequences for the dynamic duo when they cross moral and/or legal boundaries to hunt down the prize. And for other characters who enter their sphere. All while quietly exploring race and class. Plus, there’s no assurance that the endeavour will succeed. Refreshing.