Trees Lounge (1996) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Tree’s Lounge is an affecting low-key slice-of-life drama about an aimless alcoholic’s daily existence and the other creatures of habit he encounters at the local dive bar. It’s been written and directed by 1990’s indie darling Steve Buscemi and he also stars as the lead in a difficult role. There is nary a false note in this unpredictable tale that traces the days and nights of a man who seems destined for a certain direction in life. The small-scale nature of the story and production shouldn’t dis-sway potential viewers. This is a gentle, funny, sad, and mystifying film that intimately knows the personalities who populate watering holes throughout the country.

Tommy Basilio (Steve Buscemi) is an out of work mechanic who spends virtually all his time at the neighborhood bar, Trees’s Lounge. As a result of his questionable lifestyle choices, he’s alienated his family and lost his girlfriend, Theresa (Elizabeth Bracco). Still, despite the turmoil Tommy faces in his life, he’d rather drink the day away than try to turn his life around.

Steve Buscemi, in his writing and directing debut, does an excellent job establishing an appropriate rhythm and tone to his story. The film doesn’t wander but it’s measured and told with a certain malaise. The casting is spot on from Mark Boone Junior, Chloe Sevigny, Elizabeth Bracco to Anthony LaPaglia. Tree’s Lounge is one of the most accurate and interesting movies ever made about the daily life of a specific kind of struggling alcoholic who squanders his day with other addicts rather than make something of himself. It’s a near perfect film.

Director: Steve Buscemi
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Mark Boone Junior, Chole Sevigny

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