Sidewalk Stories (1989)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

USA, 1989. . Screenplay by Charles Lane. Cinematography by . Produced by , Charles Lane. Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by Charles Lane, .

Charles Lane directs a quasi-remake of and tribute to Charles Chaplin’s The Kid, shot on the streets of New York in black and white using only music without any dialogue (or intertitles). He plays a street artist who witnesses a man get murdered in front of his toddler, who Lane quickly rescues and brings home to his makeshift hovel. The little girl has a mother but Lane doesn’t know where she is, so he does his best to keep an eye on her despite having no money or experience with babies. When he tries to steal from a children’s clothing store, he draws the sympathy of the kindly owner and she becomes a friend and possibly something more when she invites him over for a romantic dinner. Lane’s direction is lax and his acting sometimes one-note, his facial expressions aren’t as complex as the clever sequences that he invents, while his plot could use some firming up, the film is a good 15 or 20 minutes longer than it needs to be. A number of sight gags induce genuine giggles, though, and the good nature with which Lane tries to show more than just misery associated with the poverty of New York’s toughest neighbourhoods is heartwarming.

Toronto International Film Festival: 1989

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