Done on a shoestring budget, this one was surprisingly good.
A New York Heartbeat is not a perfect story and occasionally I noticed little things—such as the loot which was made up mostly of very modern American dollars despite being set in the 1957s (and money looked VERY different) and the 21st century style cursing (as a retired history teacher, I notice these things). However, considering its humble roots, it’s a pretty amazing film. It was created via a Kickstarter campaign and the writer/director Tjardus Greidanus is experienced—but not with full-length films. Instead, his background is in documentary shorts and a few TV shows. With this sort of pedigree, I expected much less than the film delivered.
In many ways, the film is like a modern movie that poses the question ‘what would it look like if the Bowery Boys were placed in a modern version of film noir?!’ It’s a totally absurd question, but I found myself thinking that as I watched the young men acting in the film. Their accents sound a lot like Leo Gorcey and the gang—plus they acted a lot like them at times but without the attempt at comedy. But these characters are a lot more street-wise and corrupt.
The film begins with this gang of young jerks trying to pull an easy robbery. They’re just going to sneak into an apartment and steal a hidden gun one of them knows about…and it should be a piece of cake. The problem is that the place is owned by the notorious gangsters, Casket Mike (Eric Roberts)—and with a name like Casket Mike you know these punks have gotten into very deep trouble. But the problem is that these knuckleheads don’t realize it. And, when they find a large pile of cash in the empty apartment, they unwisely decide to steal it. Naturally, the mobster and his men want it back—and you know sooner or later there’s going to be hell to pay!
In the meantime, however, after the gang’s very narrow escape from Casket Mike, Spider (Escher Holloway) is beaten half to death by some other creeps trying to attack a young lady. Tamara (Rachel Brosnahan) is thankful the guy came to try to help and she sneaks him back to her hideout to nurse him back to health. And, I do mean hideout. This is because her uncle Didi is also a notorious mobster—one who everyone thinks was killed decades ago. Instead, however, he and Tamara hide out in an old abandoned looking building and bide their time—afraid to come out because Casket Mike is ALSO looking for them! I could tell you what’s going to happen next, but I’d have to kill you….just kidding!! I just don’t want to spoil the film!
You have to applaud Tjardus Greidanus for doing so much with so little in this film. It’s very tense and has a good ending. And, you wonder how he got Eric Roberts and Jack Donner for the film since they both are very experienced actors. Actually, I DO understand how he got Roberts at least—the man has a bazillion credits on IMDb and seems to have more movies coming out in the next year or so than MGM!!
While this is not a great film, it is a very interesting film and I wonder what these folks with do given more experience and a bigger budget. Worth seeing just because it’s a nice example of a Kickstarter campaign that worked.
Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer