Palookaville was the first feature film from director Alan Taylor. Of course, he went on to direct The Sopranos, which gives you some idea of the quality of his work. It’s based on a short story by Italian writer Italo Calvino – again, a good indication of quality, as far as I’m concerned. The 3 buddies central to this movie are played by William Forsyth (Sid), Vincent Gallo (Russ), and Adam Trese (Jerry) – all are excellent. There again so is the entire cast. Francis McDormand also appears, all too briefly in my view, as a friendly hooker. I loved her performances in Fargo, Almost Famous, and Blood Simple, and any movie with her in it has got my vote. The lads are all unemployed, and turn to crime as a last resort. Although we are not really sure whether it’s from lack of money, or sheer boredom, that they become burglars. They do have motives, e.g. Sid is getting evicted, and Russ desperately needs to move out of his mum’s house. There are disfunctional families and weird relationships aplenty. From the beginning, with the jaunty music in the background, you just know that something’s going to go wrong with the burglary, and not in a deadly serious or tragic way. You also know that these must be, at heart, good guys. Even before the titles at the start, we see how the thwarted criminals behave when they find themselves in an empty bakery - surrounded by cream cakes. I can relate to that! They’re amateur criminals - for their ‘big job’, they even use techniques copied from an old black and white film they just happen to see on the TV. Basically, it's a really good feel-good movie, and one of my favourites from the 90s. Just 88 minutes long – the perfect length for a movie. It has a Cert. 15 - I'd say it's suitable for family viewing.
Winner of the 1995 Best Picture prize at the Venice Film Festival, Palookaville is a likeable tale about a 3 average men who try to get ahead in life by pulling off various scams. Sid, Russ and Jerry are slightly dense, small time criminals who one day decide that they are going to hit the big time by robbing a security van driven by an old man using toy guns however, as with all of their schemes, everything again seems to be conspiring against them... The problem is that these three really are not cut out for crime. their previous dabblings have involved breaking into a jewelers through the back entrance...only to find that their is a bakery behind the jewelers and it is this they break into instead, and running old people about town thus undercutting the taxi service. Not exactly big time. There are various sub-plots which run through this movie and the characterization of the three palookas is brilliant. Jerry, Russ and Sid are played perfectly by three virtually unknown actors(to me at least) who put in excellent performances as three down and out average guys just looking for a fast buck. The story is excellent and can not be recommended highly enough. This is one of those movies which you discover by accident because it does not receive loads of hype and yet still manages to excel. Highly recommended to all movie fans.