T.J. Collins awkwardly mixes genres in his tale of a Latino family's downward spiral.

T.J. Collins’ debut feature reps the third recent film to foreground Queens’ Willets Point, a rundown, multiethnic community centered around junkyards and chop shops. Collins awkwardly mixes genres in his tale of a Latino family’s downward spiral, wedding the husband’s socioeconomic drama (his job is threatened by the imminent demolition of the neighborhood) with a domestic-meller plot involving the wife’s progressive degenerative disease; the result sometimes plays like a downscale version of “Love and Other Drugs.” Well-meaning effort’s amateurish story development and uneven thesping severely limit future prospects beyond its Nov. 26 bow at Gotham’s Quad Cinema.

Pic benefits from the immediacy and authenticity of the Willets Point locations, where its hero, Guillo (Alfredo Suarez), labors as a mechanic. But this solid grounding is undermined by the flatness and artificiality of Collins’ exposition. Meanwhile, the transition of Guillo’s ambitious wife, Doris (Lorraine Rodriguez), from an established wine seller to a crazed victim of Huntington’s disease feels abrupt and contrived. Occasional scenes click: Doris scrunched in the bathtub reading her sister’s unanswered letters, Guillo’s flirtation with a pretty bartender. But atmospherics notwithstanding, the narrative unfolds unconvincingly in jerky fits and starts.

Willets Point

Production

A Poseidon production in association with Outta Left Field, Screen Cut Films. Produced by T.J. Collins. Co-producer, Ivan Velez. Directed, written by T.J. Collins.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Ivan Velez, Stewart Frankson; music, Richard Martinez. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Nov. 19, 2010. Running time: 76 MIN.

With

Alfredo Suarez, Lorraine Rodriguez, Natalie Garcia, Moses Caban, Kimberli Flores. (English, Spanish dialogue)
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