Retro Film Review: Little City (1997)

in aaa •  6 days ago 


All those advocating globalisation talk about the new, more open and more visually diverse world where the social barriers would slowly vanish. But, despite all those developments, certain people, even if they are enlightened and even if they live in multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-cultural societies, tend to spend most of their lives in rather tightly knit groups where everyone knows everyone else. One of the films to describe this phenomenon is Little City, 1997 drama written and directed by Roberto Benabib.

The plot takes place in San Francisco. Adam (played by Josh Charles) is a painter who earns his living as a cab driver. He always tells a sad tale about Kate (played by Joanna Going), his ex girlfriend who dumped him for lesbian Anne (played by Jo Beth Williams). This issue is still unresolved for Adam who neglects his new girlfriend Nina (played by Anabella Sciorra). Nina got pregnant with Adam's best friend Kevin (played by Jon Bon Jovi), womanising bartender who tries to seduce Rebecca (played by Penelope Ann Miller), a new waitress.

The author of this review doesn't like the word "dramedy". On most occasions, it is nothing more than an excuse for comedy writers lacking talent. But in case of Little City, the word "dramedy" could be applied without any negative connotations. The film is simply too serious to be taken as romantic comedy and at the same time it is too quirky to be taken as serious drama. Many would compare it with Crowe's Singles, but apart from having ensemble cast playing 20-something characters in West Coast metropolis, Little City and Singles have few things in common. The characters are well-written and the idea behind the film's title – that even the greatest city can become a small town if you move in the same circles - is successfully presented throughout the film. The acting is very good, with Jon Bon Jovi making people forget that he used to be a rock star before becoming genuine actor. The only thing that doesn't particularly work in this film is Benabib's technique of expressing characters' inner thoughts through monologues. In some cases it works - Adam speaking his heart out via cab radio and Kate talking to her therapist - while in others it looks too convenient and artificial. For example, Kevin is written as a recovering alcoholic only to have him talk at AA meetings while Nina becomes Catholic only to have her confess to a priest. However, despite those flaws, Little City is a charming little film that deserves recommendation.

RATING: 6/10 (++)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on July 24th 2004)

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