The tale of a pickpocket’s redemption through love, plus a vengeance-seeking cop and assorted betrayals, “Loosies” weakly channels Sam Fuller’s “Pickup on South Street” but without the explosive action, iconic thesping and stylistic punch. Produced and written by star Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen of the “Twilight” franchise) and directed by Michael Corrente (“Federal Hill”), pic offers some funky down-home Gothamites, a few minor thrills, strained romantic banter and an improbably convenient solution to its central conflict. Opened Wednesday at Gotham’s IFC Center after its VOD bow, this sporadically charming item is better suited to the smallscreen.
Though Bobby (Facinelli), a consummate pickpocket, was forced into crime by his late father’s $500,000 debt to loan shark Jax (Vincent Gallo), he nevertheless thrives on his quick wits and agile fingers, which give him a sense of superiority to his wealthy prey. But Bobby’s carefree days soon turn problematic.
His latest cocky escapade — stealing a cop’s badge and using it to commandeer a free cab ride — has made headlines and enraged the cop in question (Michael Madsen), who hunts him down in earnest.
His home is invaded, first by a mouse, who drives his mother (Marianne Leone) into fruit-throwing hysterics, and next by a strange man in red underpants (Joe Pantoliano), who turns out to be his mother’s sleep-over fiance. Then the cops descend.
The real game-changer, though, comes when a one-night stand with a clearly nice girl, Lucy (Jaimie Alexander), leaves her pregnant, forcing Bobby to make decisions and take responsibility. Corrente attempts to show his characters drifting aimlessly around the city until they make a love connection, but these exterior scenes, with their quick cutting and slick lensing, wind up looking a tad too much like an ad for Gotham Cool, especially as they stand in calculated contrast to the long takes and strung-out emotional confrontations that dominate elsewhere.
The film’s occasional flashes of thesp authenticity are largely supplied by Pantoliano, who makes his most hackneyed lines sound completely natural and oddly endearing.
Gallo’s entertainingly sinister screwball, though convincing, never relates to anything or anyone around him; even an ever-present kid (Eric Phillips), who hangs out playing computer games in Jax’s apartment, functions more as a bit of local color than a character.
Alexander’s perf, despite the actress’ obvious potential, cannot survive her character’s brusque mood swings between anger and tenderness. Most significantly, Facinelli’s transformation from feckless charmer to committed caretaker seems contrived, leaving the film feeling like a series of stitched-together scenes with little internal drive.