Film Review: Trees Lounge

I’ve been a huge fan of Steve Buscemi ever since I first saw him attempt a best man speech, drunk at a wedding. And when you follow that up with a manic turn, riding bareback on a nuclear warhead, it’s an impressive way to demand cinematic attention. Let alone then providing the perfect definition of irony. And so, I have always been drawn to his films and his work.

And so with Curzon Home Cinema showing Trees Lounge, a film that I know very little about apart from the fact that not only stars, but also directed by Buscemi, the biggest surprise is that it’s taken me this long to viewing it. Such is my love for the work of Buscemi that I didn’t even bother watching the trailer. His name is recommendation enough for me.

What I found is a strange but entertaining story. A psychoanalytical story that is very reflective and insular it’s how it gazes upon lead character, Tommy (Buscemi). The film is an examination of his life and how events unfold around him leading him to a life of happy misery and unsatisfactory existence And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Steve Buscemi Directing - Trees Lounge

I think my enjoyment may in part be down to the fact that I am constantly fascinated and iintrigued by the workings of the mind, people’s actions and how consequential events combine together. After all, I am about to embark on a psychology degree, so I may be looking at this film with slight bias. But don’t get me wrong, it’s a depressive story. It’s not uplifting, there is no happy ending, it’s a monotonous waste through time, but it’s not boring. It will make you think and question and empathise. It’s a beautifully constructed and acted film that makes to bring a subtle charm to it’s bleak subject.

And credit for the power of this film must go to Buscemi, because while a lot of actors can find it hard to rule both sides of the camera, with one usually dominating the other, this time both are working in harmony and both performances are worthy of note. I would say, however, that on screen Buscemi is playing it safe with a character that is slightly stereotypical to him: the drunken, so called waste of space, black sheep of the family, in need of his “one big break”. But just because it’s a bit of typecasting doesn’t necessarily mean it’s instantly a bad thing. If you’re very good at bringing a personality trait to life then sticking close to it can at times be wise. And in this, he once again nails the emotions and traits that define his characters personality perfectly. You forget it’s Buscemi very quickly and very believably.

Behind the camera though, the directing of this film is something to behold. As I said earlier, it’s a depressive plot but it’s brought to life with a real overriding sense of self deprecation. The film feels run down and undervalued and because this tone is reinforced so well in it’s presentation you really do engage and warm to it. The subject may not at heart seem overly entertaining or enjoyable, but you’ll come to love and sympathise with the characters none the less. The film is also paced brilliantly. By modern standards the running time is short, at little over 90 minutes, but once again Buscemi’s travelling through the narrative in such a very that never feels rushed but also never feels stationery. It’s the perfect speed for the tone.

Carol Kane - Trees Lounge

And while this is very much the Steve Buscemi show, bordering on but never failing into vanity film making, the backup cast is brilliant. Providing the perfect balance to his performance to really bring everything together. Carol Kane as Connie provides a truly stand out performance, in a very much supportive role which demanded more screen time; while the cameo of Samuel L. Jackson and Lawrence Gilliard Jr. raised a smile.

Trees Lounge really does manage to mix a superlative blend of thoroughly enjoyable and reflective depression to produce an end result that never once bored me, and certainly created a movie that is more than just a typical middle of the road drama. For a film that seems as little well known as it is, I really wasn’t expecting anything like the quality it gave. It really is a little gem of a film.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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