Gimme The Loot Premiered at the SXSW Film Festival last night, when I was able to catch the screening.
The story about teen hoodlums Malcolm and Sofia, played by newcomers Tysheeb Hickson and Tashiana R. Washington, seeking revenge for their botched Graffiti art, is hardly hardcore and dangerous. Filmmaker Adam Leon opts for a lighthearted and fun narrative instead that revolves around the platonic friendship and adventures of two Graffiti artists as they roam the streets of the NYC, and hustle for loot to avenge rival gangs by Graffitti spraying the NY Mets Home Run apple.
The intro immediately hooks you with it's funky soul soundtrack, the photography of the city streets, and these two unlikely, yet charismatic duo engage in mischieveous thievery. They have an enjoyable innocent dynamic as they partake in mundane conversations about their Graffiti and daily happenings. Sofia, a tomboy played by Washington, downplays her striking looks convincignly, enough to deliver a street tough gal persona.
Malcolm is not a clever hustler; he is no savvy hoodlum. A nick and dime drug dealer, the narrative follows him after he gets fired from his drug dealing job, and he ends up with awkward attempts at seducing young woman (Zoe Lescaze) at the same time that he’s plotting to seize some of her valuables. Some of the dialogue in the film doesn’t work here; at times the film plays out like a silly and goofy comedy, the kind that is best enjoyed more under the influence perhaps.
None of the drug dealers are your stereotypical thugs and gangsters. There are no death threats, no vicious beatings. But perhaps that's not such a bad thing; it proves to be a catch-22 here. Gimme The Loot seems to turn into a seeming spoof of urban street life. It’s ultimately engaging enough throughout, especially due to Washington’s performance as the streetwise heroine.
It’s a quirky film with peculiar performances and some superfluous situations. I give kudos to filmmakers that dare to be unpredictable when it comes to the treatment of romance in films; in this case though, I would have enjoyed a blossoming love story between Malcolm and Sofia. The subtle sexual tension between their characters lead the way for a few sweet and amusing sequences, not enough though to keep me heavily invested through the film's duration.
The duo's chemistry, along with the funky soundtrack and photography, certainly do their best to hold the narrative together. However, the duo's harmless, and ordinary thrill ride through the subway stations runs out of steam.