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  Adrift in Manhattan

Starring: Victor Rasuk, Heather Graham, William Baldwin, Dominic Chianese

Directed by: Alfredo De Villa

Produced by: Joshua Blum, Steven J. Brown

Written by: Nat Moss, Alfredo De Villa
Distributor: Screen Media Ventures, LLC


As seen at the 2007 San Diego Film Festival:

     Alfredo De Villa’s Adrift in Manhattan offers viewers an entirely conventional story, but is convincing and well-made enough to prove itself worthwhile. The film follows the lives of three emotionally-stinted souls lost in the shuffle of the daunting New York City-setting that surrounds them. Primary among said souls is Simon Colon (Victor Rasuk), a twenty-year-old who still lives with his mother (Marlene Forte). Simon pays the bills by working in a photo-development store, where he discovers a passion for photography. He begins to stalk and take pictures of the beautiful Rose Phipps (Heather Graham), whose vibrant scarf one day catches his eye. Rose is a successful optometrist experiencing troubles at home. She has separated from her husband (William Baldwin) after losing their two-year-old son to an accident, making her highly emotionally-vulnerable. In fact, when Rose discovers that Simon has been taking pictures of her, she soon invites him into her home and has mournful sex with him. 

     The third of Adrift in Manhattan’s interlocking stories follows Tommasso Pensaro (Dominic Chianese), one of Rose’s patients. Tommasso is an elderly Italian-immigrant who doesn’t have a family; he spends the majority of his free-time painting. His embrace of this talent makes it all the more tragic when Rose tells them that he has an eye-disease that will cause him to go blind in less than a year. Tommasso is stunned, not only because he will lose a form of art that has become dear to him, but also because he fears that his blindness will scare away his newfound late-in-life love-interest (and fellow co-worker), Isabel (Elizabeth Peña).

     As reflected by my brief plot synopsis, Adrift in Manhattan doesn’t exactly explore any new cinematic territory. The story and characters are rather familiar, but the film works as a whole due to its strong performances and production-values. Director De Villa, as he did with his freshman-feature Washington Heights, is able to capture a very authentic view of Manhattan and its culture. He naturally sets the stage for his actors to go to work, and they do so beautifully. Rasuk is able to wonderfully internalize the role of Simon, relying heavily on face and eye work to craft the nuances of the character. Graham is perhaps the best she’s ever been here, capturing the grief of Rose with stunning fearlessness (especially during the aforementioned graphic sex scene). And Chianese is also comfortingly excellent at playing Tommasso. Even if Adrift in Manhattan isn’t exactly the freshest film being released this year, it uses its assets to craft an entirely pleasant and occasionally poignant product.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 10.4.2007

Screened on: 9.29.2007 at the Pacific Gaslamp 15 in San Diego, CA.


Adrift in Manhattan is rated R and runs 89 minutes.

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