MOVIES | MOVIE REVIEW | 'WILLETS POINT'
Latino Family Drama
Directed by T.J. Collins
By JEANNETTE CATSOULISNOV. 25, 2010
A close-knit Latino family unravels under financial and medical pressures in “Willets Point,” a rough but well-meaning drama about facing fears and hanging on.
Initially laid-back and affable, Guillo (Alfredo Suarez), a struggling mechanic, becomes increasingly depressed when the redevelopment of his Queens neighborhood threatens the garage where he works. His upward-striving wife, Doris (Lorraine Rodriguez), is more sanguine. Better educated and with a job — selling wine to local restaurants — that will benefit from gentrification, Doris pushes their 9-year-old daughter (an adorable Natalie Garcia) to perfect her language skills. “Grammar is the key to success,” she tells her; but when a trip to the emergency room reveals that Doris has a fatal degenerative disease, her own ability to communicate will be one of the first things to change.
Unevenly paced and awkwardly told — Doris transforms from sweet-natured partner to screeching harpy in the space of a single, shocking scene —“Willets Point” shows the strain of being stretched from short story to full-length feature. But the writer and director, T. J. Collins, makes diligent use of his body-shop-strewn location, surrounding his embattled stars with enough grit to hold the story together. Tattered billboards and boarded-up buildings line the walk to the run-down bar where Guillo seeks forgetfulness with a friendly bartender (Kimberli Flores), and much of the film’s dialogue has the ability to pierce.
“I could have married a man with clean hands,” Doris tells Guillo at one point, hinting at a wealth of resentment that only her illness could unleash. “Willets Point” may not be the slickest of movies, but what it lacks in polish it more than makes up for in heart.
Opens on Friday in Manhattan.
Written, produced and directed by T. J. Collins; director of photography, Ivan Velez; edited by Stewart Frankson; music by Richard Martinez; released by Poseidon Productions. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 57 minutes. This film is not rated.
WITH: Lorraine Rodriguez (Doris Blanco), Alfredo Suarez (Guillo Blanco), Natalie Garcia (Sofia Blanco), Kimberli Flores (Jess/Bartender) and Moses Caban (Maldo).
Director T.J. Collins
Writer T.J. Collins
Stars J. Antonio Brito, Moses Caban, Rich Drezen, Kimberli Flores, Luis Galarza
Running Time 1h 15m