Friday, March 7, 2008

Chop Shop

Chop Shop is a surprisingly sweet and sadly realistic portrayal of a young boy who hustles everyday working in a garage in Queens. Shot like a documentary, the camera follows Alejandro, (played excellently by 12 year old Alejandro Polanco) as he lifts and carries car parts that are bigger than him, haggles with customers and witnesses things that most children would or should not see. The story begins with Ale finding his sister Isamar (played by Isamar Gonzales) who has presumably, been living in a group home. She moves in with him in a cramped room above the chop shop where they earn their keep.
Director Rahmin Baharani chose to tell the story of the loss of innocence with an unapologetic eye, never going into extreme detail about the circumstances of these children's lives but what they do to maneuver their way through it. The center of the story is Ale's relationship with his sister, which becomes strained by Ale uncovering a secret about Isamar that devastates him. Dealing with what he has discovered while at the same time trying to fulfill his goal of owning a food truck is fascinating to watch. Polanco's performance as a kid wise beyond his years, tough but still very vulnerable is what carries this film from beginning to end.

Chop Shop is playing at the Film Forum until March 11.

link via IMDB

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