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Kill the Poor (Unrated)

Release Date: January 6th, 2006 (NYC-IFC Center) by IFC Films.
The Cast: David Krumholtz, Clara Bellar, Paul Calderon, Jon Budinoff, Cliff Gorman, Damian Young, Heather Burns, Otto Sanchez, Zak Orth, Larry Gilliard Jr.
Directed by Alan Taylor.

BASIC PREMISE: After Joe (Krumholtz) marries Annabelle (Bellar), a stripper, their marriage crumbles when they move into an apartment in a poor NYC neighborhood.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Throughout Kill the Poor , Joe deals with his quirky tenants who frequently gather at union meetings in the basement. Carlos (Calderon) and his son are the only tenants who cause real trouble with their tough, menacing looks. The rest of the tenants include a variety of New Yorkers—one is a drag queen while another is an artist. Title cards do introduce each tenant separately with his/her own vignette, but, unfortunately, you don’t get the sense that they all live in the same building. The thin plot has very little tension or conflicts to hold your interest. Joe, as the central character, doesn’t have enough background to really make you care about his survival or the survival of his marriage with Annabelle. Even if their marriage crumbles, they didn’t marry for love in the first place—she needed a visa and he was feeling generous. Perhaps if Joe were to have a secret love affair, there would be a little bit more plot tension. Even when his parents finally visit his apartment, their reaction simply lacks credibility—they should be furious with him and urge him to move anywhere else, especially if there’s no heating. If his father happened to be an important figure, i.e., a police officer, that would have added at least something interesting to the plot. The third act feels slightly too rushed and clichéd as it includes a brief mystery and, predictably, a little violence. On a positive note, the use of digital video slightly enhances the realistic feel.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Moving into a different neighborhood is certainly a challenge that requires plenty of adjusting. The impoverished tenants show some kindness, warmth, and even respect. Ultimately, it’s Joe’s task to respect them for their different lifestyle without pre-judging them. In an interesting scene, Joe tries to solve problem with one of the tenants simply by talking to them—not that it solves the problem, but it’s much safer and smarter than using violence or other forms of intimidation.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough plot tension/conflict and a few clichés.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Interesting and quirky supporting characters, but a weak plot with a clichéd third act doesn’t add up to whole lot of beans.


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