“We’re not going to leave you alone until I get the ring, okay?”
A precocious Greek gypsy boy (Angelo Evans) and his brother try to retrieve a family ring stolen by a conniving Russian gypsy (Steve Tsigonoff).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- New York City
- Robert Duvall Films
Fourteen years before producing and directing The Apostle (1997), Robert Duvall helmed this neo-realist indie film about a little-known American subculture: gypsies in New York City. Its strength lies primarily in the central casting of real-life gypsy kid Angelo Evans (essentially playing himself, as does much of the cast), whose precocious energy drives the narrative: we both believe in and care about him from the first moment he’s on-screen. An early scene in which the illiterate Angelo struggles to maintain his pride in a public school classroom is quietly devastating, and immediately helps us to understand why he prefers to live in the “real world” — among adults — instead. Duvall is less successful in crafting a compelling overall narrative (the ring-heist plot is flimsy at best), but this ultimately doesn’t matter, given that we’re most interested in watching Angelo navigate the streets of New York, and gaining a sense of how this group of societal outcasts manages to maintain key elements of its ancient culture while surviving in a modern city. We may not approve of the gypsy lifestyle portrayed here, but it’s certainly memorable, and fascinating to observe for a short while.
P.S. See Mike Newell’s Into the West (1992) for a comparable — albeit more strategically crafted — film about modern-day Irish gypsies (known as “Travellers”) in Dublin.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Angelo Evans as himself
- A fascinating ethnographic look at New York’s gypsy community
No, but it’s worth a look.