Gimme the Loot

Gimme the Loot, the debut feature film from writer/director Adam Leon, is a sprint through two sweaty summer days in New York City. The film centers on Sofia and Malcolm, a pair of aspiring graffiti writers determined to prove themselves by “tagging” the New York Mets’ Home Run Apple – a cardboard apple that appears at Citi Field every time the Mets hit a home run. But the only way they can get to the Apple is through Malcolm’s friend Pedro, and Pedro demands a $500 pay-off to take them there. The race is on: Sofia and Malcolm have two days to round up the money that will put them at the top of their game, their names victoriously marring a monument for all of New York to see.

As the film follows its two tenacious, quick-witted protagonists through their frantic race for cash, it touches upon the quandaries of adolescence, inter-class tensions, the simple affection of friendship, and the daily trials of street life in the Bronx. Sofia and Malcolm’s paths weave back and forth throughout, as they sell pot, pick up payments from custom graffiti sales, dodge thieving punks and rival gangs, and, beneath it all, try to understand friendship and romance. By the end of the first day they’ve accomplished nothing, except that bumbling Malcolm has both fallen in love and had his heart broken by one of his weed customers, an upper middle class white girl named Jenny. Once Malcolm realizes she is using him as little more than an object of amusement, he and Sofia resolve to rob her instead. When their plans are thwarted, they simply sit idly on the street and watch her, and their watching culminates into a silent confrontation between white and black, rich and poor – an all-too tangible divide that the film emphasizes with grace and restraint.

Malcolm and Sofia’s dream of “tagging” the Home Run Apple epitomizes the grandiose, fleeting and occasionally aggressive ambitions of adolescence. But for all of their streetwise posturing, they wear innocence on their sleeve; the film’s most memorable details pop out when the energy loosens, leaving room for moments of hesitant emotion between one hustle and the next – Sofia’s soft smile as a boy she likes offers to carry her bag; Malcolm’s bashful request for a kiss from Jenny; Sofia and Malcolm’s amusingly circular conversations. These are the film’s most valuable observations, and they reveal a timeless theme: the persistence of dreams and hopeful gestures, small or large, in the face of the daily grind.