Prince of Broadway (Sean Baker, 2008): USA

Reviewed by Byron Potau.  Viewed at the LA International Film Festival

It is exciting to see a young director make a film that gives a glimpse of his possible future in the industry.  With his new film Prince of Broadway, director Sean Baker, who also shot the film himself and co scripted with Darren Dean, brings a positive spotlight on his potential.
Lucky (Prince Adu) is an illegal immigrant from Ghana roping in customers on New York City streets looking for name brand merchandise which he promises he has and can sell at a discount.  He brings them to an average looking store with a hidden room in the back with counterfeit Prada bags and Nike Shoes that look enough like the real thing to fool the customers.  He is one of many working for Levon (Karren Karagulian), the Armenian who owns the store.  What makes Lucky different is the one and a half year old son he suddenly inherits from ex-girlfriend Linda (Kat Sanchez) who insists it is his before she runs off with her current boyfriend.  Unable to go to the police because of his immigration status, he is forced to take care of the child who he eventually starts calling Prince (Aiden Noesi) because he does not know the boy’s real name, and has serious doubts that he is the father.  There is also a side plot concerning middle aged Levon, whose concern for Lucky and his situation show him to be more than a boss, but also a caring friend.
The acting in the film works well and Karren Karagulian is a standout as Lucky’s tough but sensitive boss, but Prince Adu’s improvising as Lucky does get a little redundant at times.  There are many genuine bits of humor in the film, mostly involving Prince turning Lucky’s world upside down, but it works as well as it does because we have been drawn into the characters’ world.  Director Sean Baker manages the material well, making great use of actual locations and an improvisational style, and the film never feels forced in any of its scenes.  The ending is particularly satisfying to close out what has been a solid effort and puts Baker on a list of directors to watch for.  While not a great film, it is very good and one that will not disappoint.

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