Lower East Side
350 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
F, J, M, Z to Delancey Street-Essex Street; B, D, Q to Grand Street
|8:30PM||Live Music by Emily Reo|
Freeloader (Zachary Raines | New York, NY | 77 min.)
An establishing shot outside a Brooklyn apartment shows a graveyard, telling us it’s morning, and it’s not going to be a good one. Inside, Frank is hung over (again). He would’ve overslept work if he had a job, but he has missed his opportunity to have that relationship talk with Pearl he so desperately, drunkenly wanted to have late last night. It seems like Frank just can’t catch a break—or is it that he keeps breaking things?
When Pearl (Vassi Spanos) tenderly tries to break up with him, Frank (as usual) makes an awkward situation more difficult than it has to be: he simplifies things, spins them around, and simultaneously goes on the attack while feigning victimhood. It’s a masterful maneuver, as far as dick moves go. As uncomfortable as Frank’s faux pas are, they’re always uncomfortably funny.
Perhaps Frank’s gripes are justified, but he’s always digging in for a fight, overtly passive-aggressive, and he manages to make everyone involved feel badly. Even while living off the gifts of others, Frank makes sure to his best friend Bud (John Siciliani), his ex-girlfriend Pearl, and anyone else he encounters won’t be happy with or without him. At last, while shacking up with overly-eager Ray (“with the pedophile smile”), it appears that Frank might be recognizing something about himself, coming out of his bitter shell. Frank goes to Ray’s (Jesse Wakeman) comedy show—a blinding bomb of a performance that serves as the metaphoric epicenter of the movie—and for the first time Frank earnestly tries to project empathy. It’s almost tragic how badly that comes off. This is, after all, a dude who’s even sarcastic to the sea.
Writer-Director-Editor Zachary Raines delicately draws sharp and nuanced performances out of the entire cast, and cuts the naturalistic dialogue crisply, keeping each scene light and funny, even when the subtext sinks further and further into negativity. Freeloader is on some level a fantastic farce, set in a New York City neo-realism that satirizes some of our society’s delightfully nasty tendencies.
- Mark Elijah Rosenberg