Providence's Alternative Source!


Back when he turned in the ruefully hilarious The Brothers McMullen, independent filmmaker Edward Burns looked as if he might be the black-Irish, black-comic answer to Woody Allen. Now, with Sidewalks of New York, he seems to be leaving behind the wit and whimsy of Annie Hall in order to become the blue-collar version of Neil LaBute. Set on the title turf, with direct-to-the-camera interviews to make it seem, for some reason, like a documentary, the film revolves around an assortment of discontented Gothamites looking for or trying to recover from true love.

There's Tommy, played by Burns himself; he produces a trash TV show but aspires to be a serious writer. Having recently broken up with his girlfriend, Tommy is looking for a new one in Maria (Rosario Dawson), a schoolteacher who's just gotten divorced from Ben (David Krumholtz), a doorman with musical pretensions. Ben, for his part, has been hitting on waitress Ashley (Brittany Murphy, an MTV version of Diane Keaton), who's in an unhappy adulterous affair with uptight dentist Griffin (a slithery Stanley Tucci). Griffin's wife is longsuffering Annie (Heather Graham), and this turn of Burns's La ronde wanders into the LaBute neighborhood of treachery and mean-spiritedness. Actually, Griffin's nastiness is meant to show up what a nice guy Burns's character is: not only is Tommy more moral, but he has a larger penis. Thank goodness for Dennis Farina as Tommy's clueless, womanizing mentor; at least his puerile, macho nonsense is played for laughs. At the Showcase (Warwick only).

By Peter Keough

Issue Date: November 30 - December 6, 2001