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Side Streets Review

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★★★★

For designer wannabe Sylvie (Golino) the day begins with her boyfriend walking out on her, the receipt of an eviction notice and the realisation that her one client can't afford to pay her for the dress she has made. Meanwhile, her cab driver Bipin (Malik) has problems of his own - his brother is Vikran Raj (Kapoor), the one time Bollywood heart-throb who now holds court largely on Bipin's couch, much to the annoyance of his wife.

Across town Errol (Le-n) has just bought himself the perfect gold Cadillac, but has used his wife's precious china to pay for it and now she won't let him have the keys. Josif (Davis Vadim), a Romanian butcher, meanwhile, has an ambitious scam in mind which is curtailed by his unexpectedly spending the night in the meat locker - while uptown in the Bronx, Ramon (John Ortiz) has promised his girlfriend a new dress for the Miss Collate beauty pageant, only he can't afford to pay the designer.

Thus debutante feature director Tony Gerber weaves his five slices of life, presenting an often absorbing roads-less-travelled vision of contemporary New York. As with all such movies, the film walks a fine line with its audience, sometimes shifting gears when your sympathies for one set of characters is at its peak, Gerber's direction can also at times be a touch too lackadaisical and the film could use a trim. But there is much to enjoy here. Well observed characters, sharp observation and, above all, Shashi Kapoor, superb as the overweight, over the hill star of "quality" Indian pictures.