Out of pocket: Loosies *1/2

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on February 18, 2012)

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Oh, indie love story (sigh). How I adore your predictably unpredictable melange of quirky characterization and pithy observation. So low in budget, so rich in substance! Fly! Take spray can in talon, spread wide your wings of gossamer, and boldly soar heavenward to tag the marquee of Hollywood convention in shades of hipster irony…OK, too flowery? I just thought that since this is sort of, Valentine’s Day “week” (yes, I’m stretching), you would indulge me if I got in touch with my inner Byron. Anyway, there’s a new film out concerning Cupid’s more scattershot tendencies.

Loosies is a hit-and-miss affair about, well, a hit-and-miss affair between a slick New York City pickpocket named Bobby (Peter Facinelli) and a barmaid named Lucy (Jaimie Alexander) who Meet Cute one day, when they bump into each other on a crowded Manhattan sidewalk. However, when a pickpocket bumps into you, it’s usually not an “accident”. See, Bobby (who goes about his larcenous rounds disguised as a well-appointed stockbroker) does a little double dipping while he’s at “work”. He has developed a unique variation on speed dating. If he espies an attractive prospect among his victims, he nobly returns her “lost” wallet or purse. An “honest” guy…with GQ looks? Guaranteed icebreaker (yeah, he’s an asshole). Due to his “true” profession, he also prefers to keep his relationships casual (and relatively brief), lest his cover is blown.

However, I’m getting a little ahead of the narrative. When we first meet Bobby, his fling with Lucy is history. His current concern is with his fence, a sociopath  named Jax (Vincent Gallo). Jax is not happy with the fact that Bobby has jeopardized his enterprise by filching the badge of a NYC detective (Michael Madsen), who is now hot on Bobby’s trail. Bobby is also having a personality clash with Carl (Joe Pantoliano), who has recently started dating Bobby’s mother (Marianne Leone). As if his stress levels aren’t elevated enough, Lucy (who he hasn’t seen in three months)  tracks him down with some sobering news…she’s pregnant. With his karma closing in to nail him on several fronts, he has to decide which “life” he wants to pursue.

There are really two films here, awkwardly fighting for the lead, as it were. There’s the cutesy romcom aspect of Bobby and Lucy’s push me-pull you relationship, and then there’s the gritty urban crime thriller (culminating in a triple-cross gimmick that we’ve seen countless times before). With special care, these disparate narrative elements can gel nicely (as they do in Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight) but director Michael Corrente (who in the past has delivered absorbing character studies like Federal Hill and Outside Providence) isn’t quite up to it. The problem may not lie with the director’s skills, but rather with Facinelli’s screenplay, which plays like Elmore Leonard for Dummies. Also, Facinelli the actor can’t carry the film; he has limited range (Pantoliano, Gallo and Madsen act circles around him). If you bump into this film, hang on to your wallet.

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