Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Sundance ’16: Little Gangster
Rik Boskamp is probably lucky his father
doesn’t make him wear wooden shoes. The widower has changed nothing in their
home since the death of Boskamp’s mother, including the rotary phone and the
top-loading VCR. However, it is Paul Boskamp’s meek submissiveness that directly
leads to the bullying his son endures at school. However, when his father is
promoted to a different branch office, the younger Boskamp takes advantage of
the opportunity to create a new, mobbed-up persona in Arne Toonen’s Little Gangster (trailer here), which
screens during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Actually, Paul Boskamp did not want to
accept the transfer in the first place, forcing his son to resort to a little
forgery. It is probably good training for his reinvented identity, Rikki
Boscampi, mobster’s son. After throwing out the nebbish clothes his father
prefers, “Rikki” forces them to don their old, retro 1970s threads, which give
off the desired gangster aura. A couple tweaks here and there convinces his new
school mates he is the real deal. Naturally, he starts patronizing the local
Italian market run by the sultry Gina. Boscampi would be delighted to fix her
up with his father, but that might be asking too much. Unfortunately, he will
have more pressing problems when a bullying father-and-son tandem from before
also relocate to their new neighborhood.
It is hard to believe Little Gangster comes from the director of the Tarantino-esque drug
dealer movie Black Out, but here it
is. Toonen certainly keeps thing lively. Thor Braun is okay as the scheming
Boskampi, while Henry van Loon deftly walks a fine line, making his father a
put-upon doormat, but not cringingly so. Meral Polat also gives the film
periodic energy boosts as Gina. Unfortunately, none of the other kids really register
as anything but bullies or victims.
Lotte Tabbers’ adaptation of Marjon Hoffman’s YA novel manages to have it both
ways, advising “to thine own self be true,” while more-or-less rewarding Rikki
Boscampi’s initiative. Of course, ten year-olds are not overly fond of bitterly
tragic endings, so there are only so many lessons he can safely learn the hard
way. Despite the subtitles, Gangster is
easily accessible and highly digestible. Breezily entertaining for kids and
somewhat amusing for adults, Little
Gangster screens again tomorrow (1/30) in Park City, as part of this year’s
Sundance Film Festival.
Labels: Dutch cinema, Sundance '16