A disturbing drama of disturbed young men, Jesse Scolaro’s “Deprivation” gets lost trying to understand the pathology in a male friendship gone sour. Scolaro was a producer on “Manito,” and his pic shares with that acclaimed Latino Gotham work a ragged-edged filmmaking style that places improv inspiration over fully developed scenes. While “Manito” found its emotional pitch, “Deprivation” short-circuits characters’ frustrations with frustrating onscreen behavior. After a 2003 SXSW preem, pic has floundered on fest circuit, though art-cable outlets will be calling.
Barely existing in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, Steven (Neil Driscoll Jr.) feels alienated from friends, and spends his evenings calling sex phone lines, until the grim tedium is broken by the entry of long-lost pal Thomas (Jeremy Davidson). An unspoken tension builds between the two, until spilling over in Thomas’ obnoxious manner to Steve’s friends in an extended and frenzied Cassavetes-like party scene. Shocking twist sets up the possibility of a devastating conclusion, but it never happens, pointing to the pic’s persistent problem lack of dramatic follow-through.