A promising young filmmaker named David Spaltro sent me a screener of his semi- autobio- graphical movie …Around. …Around tells the story of Doyle Simms, a film student in New York City with mounting credit card debt who scrapes by living in Penn Station, collecting cans and doing odd jobs. While I never went homeless as an NYU student, I can sympathize with the debt. (I still sympathize with it every month.)
I’m probably too young to be truly nostalgic, but …Around made me feel something like nostalgia for living as a student New York City. The movie — probably the most uplifting and light-hearted film ever made with a homeless protagonist — captures some of the beauty and poetry of the city and its strange inhabitants.
After …Around dispenses with the prologue (in which a kid Doyle unhumorously pretends at racism), it becomes a romantic comedy of sorts, charting Doyle’s rocky relationship with Allyson (Molly Ryman), another young New Yorker scraping by at the margins, though not quite so marginalized. After they meet cute at a life drawing class (she turns out to be the model), Doyle’s charm (and the charm of the actor portraying him, Rob Evans) starts to break down her defenses. With the help of some New York characters, including Saul (a fine performance by Ron Brice), as another Penn Station-dweller who teaches Doyle the ropes of street living, Allyson, in turn, will have to break down Doyle’s defenses. His rocky relationship with his mother, who is dying of cancer (I swear the movie is lighthearted!), has left him feeling worthless, and he doesn’t want Allyson to see him as he sees himself.
Or something like that. It’s an ambitious first feature, which Spaltro, like his alter ego’s education, “self-financed for $175,000 or 40 credit cards.” Not a recommended form of financing — that $175,00 is going to balloon into a lot more. This filmmaker could use a bailout!
The excellent soundtrack for the film is comprised of local NYC bands (My Teenage Stride, Takka Takka, Black Hollies, and The Diggs). Spaltro makes clever use of the music — several times I caught the lyrics making wry comment on the scene. The overall sound for the movie itself is uneven, and some of the other technical aspects could be stronger, even with the low budget. Technical shortcomings are easily overlooked, however, in sequences where the story has forward momentum. The movie already has digital distribution through Cinetic Rights Management, so start looking for it on online outlets if you miss it on its current festival run.