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Film Review: Gimme the Loot

17th April 2013

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SXSW Grand Jury prize winner Gimme the Loot is a refreshing and surprisingly touching look at life on New York’s mean streets from the perspective of two teenage graffiti artists. Funny, warm and never judgemental, this is a perfect slice of indie adorableness for the summer.Gimme the Loot

Focusing on the relationship between Malcolm (Ty Hickson) and Sofia (Tashiana Washington), we are first introduced to the Bronx protagonists as they steal spray paints from a DIY shop before embarking on a graffiti tagging spree across the city. However, Malcolm and Sofia are no big timers and their work is soon defaced by a rival paint crew, leading them to hatch a plan to tag the New York Mets Apple – an iconic symbol of New York and the perfect way to gain maximum respect.

What follows is a series of entertaining obstacles as the pair attempt to raise the $500 needed to gain illegal entrance to the Mets stadium. Set over 48 humid hours, everything seems to go wrong for the pair, with them being scammed more often than scammers. Malcolm loses his trainers midway through the film and spends the remainder walking through the Bronx in ever-grimier white socks, while Sofia has her bike stolen while trying to raise the cash.

Their best option seems to fall in Malcolm’s unlikely relationship with Ginnie (Zoe Lescaze), a rich white Manhattan girl who he sells weed to. The duo decide to rob her apartment and enlist the help of a scene-stealing, heavily tattooed getaway driver called Champion (Meeko).

Director Adam Leon doesn’t shy away from showing the harsh realities of Malcolm and Sofias' lives, but Gimme the Loot never drops into self-pity or judging the pair. Malcolm and Sofia make some bad decisions and aren’t afraid to indulge in criminality, but ultimately their hearts are in the right place.

The relationship between the two is beautifully played out by the two lead characters. Sofia is tough-talking, brash and fearless, while Malcolm is more innocent and gullible. Their relationship is a professional one based on their artistic abilities, but as the film progresses we learn more about their friendship and hints of romance through their bickering and flirting.

At its heart Gimme the Loot isn’t really a caper about trying to tag the impossible, but rather a beautiful slice of sweltering New York life viewed through the eyes of two tough, resilient friends simply trying to survive. Malcolm and Sofia might be petty thieves on the lookout for a big scam, but by the end of the film you’ll be rooting for them to succeed.

Gimme the Loot is released on 3rd May.

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