Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Director Marc Singer was donated a camera and film stock to make this documentary about a world that he himself was part of at the time, living alongside others in the underground Amtrak tunnels beneath New York’s Pennsylvania stations. People who have fallen, literally, through the cracks thanks to economic devastation, addiction, mental health issues or a combination of any of these factors created a small community of ramshackle dwellings in the open spaces underneath the Manhattan surface, spending their days scavenging for resources before going down to their dark world to cook, sleep and enjoy visits with neighbours. The life down there is dangerous, one person’s house catches fire because of reprisals from rivals, and the odd visit of authorities sees them having to move around frequently, but what you’d expect to be something horrific akin to movies like Death Line is a far more complex situation: not everyone in this place is miserable, and many see it as a better choice than the alternatives of living in a street or shelter. A number of participants are surprisingly candid on screen, and that would not have been the case had an outsider decided to descend to their world and begin interviewing them. The conclusion, in which the city’s social workers get together to pull off an impressive miracle, puts a beautiful finishing touch to a fascinating and powerful experience that benefits greatly from the director’s being part of the world that he is filming.