Eric Tate and Lindsey Roberts star in THE POOR AND HUNGRY, directed by Craig Brewer.

The Poor and Hungry (2000, Craig Brewer)

So much of The Poor and Hungry is so good, one wants to forgive writer-director Brewer his excesses. First off, he shot the film on some kind of consumer video. He’s completely aware of the medium’s limitations, but he still gets ambitious with the camera work and especially the editing. Brewer’s editing on Hungry is fantastic.

The film’s at its best for the first hour or so, when it’s apparently a character study about a chop shop employee (Eric Tate) and his con artist sidekick (Lindsey Roberts). Okay, maybe Roberts isn’t exactly a con artist. She’s more just an entrepreneur in used items. Brewer juxtaposes the two characters initially, only revealing their friendship after they’re already established.

But then Tate has to go fall in love with a cello player–Lake Latimer–and all of a sudden it becomes clear Hungry is going to end up another Mean Streets variation. Just one set in Memphis.

The relationship between Tate and Roberts–due to gender, she’s stuck in the sidekick role, when she’s clearly the Batman of the two–sets Hungry apart. So does a lot of Brewer’s writing. There are some amazing scenes and his attention to character is wonderful. His plotting just eventually reveals itself as predictable. His filmmaking only gets predictable once (and almost ruins the film).

Latimer is good, though she’s sorely underutilized. Roberts is amazing. Tate’s a solid leading man. Great supporting turns from John Still, T.C. Sharpe and Jay Munn.

Hungry’s a definite achievement.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Written, edited, photographed and directed by Craig Brewer; produced by Erin Hagee, Jodi Brewer, Wanda Wilson, Craig Brewer and Walter Brewer.

Starring Eric Tate (Eli Foote), Lindsey Roberts (Harper), Lake Latimer (Amanda), John Still (Mr. Coles), Keenon Nikita (Archie), Dennis Phillippi (Bobo), T.C. Sharpe (Cowboy Urles), Jay Munn (Preacher) and Wanda Wilson (Miss Wanda).

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