Tumble in the Bronx
"All Night Bodega" chronicles a teenage girl's descent into street life, with a lackluster first half but very convincing second half and a strong performance from young actress Tammy Trull.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Right in the middle, "All Night Bodega" turns from a rather predictable and not terribly well written or performed movie about a family that can't get along, to a perfectly done story about a girl cut loose from that family.
Venus (Tammy Trull) doesn't pay attention in school, doesn't get along with her classmates, and has constant conflicts with her mom, who isn't really her mom but the stepmother who married her father before he died and still cares for her because there's nobody else to do it. Not that she's a bad mother, but in her mid-teens Venus is already more of a handful than she can manage.
|ALL NIGHT BODEGA|
|Directed by: Felix Olivier.|
Written by: Felix Olivier, Richard Schlesinger.
Cast: Jaime Tirelli, Tammy Trull, Blanca Camacho, Gabriel Salvador, Miriam Cruz, Anibal O. Lleras, Jesse Perez, Gwendolyn Chavez, Lisi DeLeon, Romi Dias, Gia Henderson, Michael Del Rio.
|Brooklyn Museum of Art
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Wed., April 30, 5 p.m.|
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Much is going on but little has to be explained in "All Night Bodega" you just pick it up characters' psychology and history from dialogue or gestures or simply attitude. Venus is confused about living in the adult world that she thinks she's ready for, but she clearly has an idea how to play power politics with boys on the street.
"So what you usually do on Friday night?" one of them asks her in his car.
"Look for some sucker to drive my ass around the Bronx," she says coolly.
"Where'd you get to be so tough? I thought you were a nice girl," he says.
"Oh oh, here comes my papi," she jokes, needling him for his paternalistic attitude. Clearly she can hold her own on the street or thinks she can.
One day when Venus gets arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and even though her night in jail is a mistake, her mom is waiting at home furious. They argue and Venus walks out. She has no idea what she's in for.|
Out on the streets without a dime, a friend or a place to stay the night, she begins her life on the street. This is where the movie gets really interesting. Having nothing, she has to figure out how to survive, fast. The kindness of strangers sees her through a day or two, but it comes coupled with the danger of strangers a danger we see coming but she doesn't. She thinks she's just having a grown-up good time for about a day.
From nothing, Venus puts together a new life a bad one, but it's a life. She finds protection, companionship and a living with a drug-selling girl gang led by the tough-as-nails Juanita (Romi Deas), who seems to have a thing for the new recruit she calls "Love Goddess." Gang loyalty and sexual loyalty are intertwined, at least by implication.
By the end of the movie, Venus is still learning fast about life on the street. If the story of her domestic troubles is unconvincing, the story of her struggle to survive with nothing is very compelling. Tammy Trull plays the role with strength and just enough suppressed self-doubt, whether she's being bitchy, scared or full of false bravado. The supporting cast is also believable, especially Jaime Tirelli as an undercover detective who tries to watch out for her as she descends deeper into the kind of life she seems destined for.
|APRIL 29, 2003|
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Reader comments on All Night Bodega:
comments from Anibal O. LLeras, May 7, 2003
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