Shadows Review

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Following the lives of a group of beatnik teens in New York, we see a light-skinned black girl fall in love with a white boy while her brother can only find work by demeaning himself and MC-ing in the local strip bar. We also drift in and out of various other delinquents but stay predominately with these three protagonists.

★★★★

Cassavetes' first film as a director is set in the New York City beat milieu of his Johnny Staccato TV series (coffee bars, jazz clubs, arty parties), but without the formal necessity of a mystery plot. Light-skinned black girl Goldoni sort of has a romance with a white guy, her jazz singer brother struggles with being forced to MC for strippers at the club where he works, and assorted friends and hangers-on do not very much with a kind of urban energy that somehow makes even the meandering sequences intimate and involving.

Improvised and loosely filmed, with lots of on-the-streets verite and rambling but punchy dialogue, this looks more like a precursor to Mean Streets than the intense family dramas which Cassavetes came to specialise in.

Cassavetes debut showcases the potential he'd go on to realise with Faces and Opening Night.