Review: Prince of Broadway

Prince of Broadway Poster

Directors: Sean Baker (Take Out)
Screenplay: Sean Baker, Darren Dean
Producer: Darren Dean
Starring: Prince Adu, Karren Karagulian, Aiden Noesi, Keyali Mayaga, Kat Sanchez
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 100 min.

Sean Baker first landed on my radar two years ago when I had the opportunity to speak to the director regarding his break out film Take Out (review). I was thrilled to find out that Baker was ready to release a second film, another New York story this time about a young hustler. Enter Prince of Broadway.

Prince of Broadway Movie StillLucky is just that: a street hustler. An illegal immigrant from Ghana, he cruises up and down Broadway, sweet talking the ladies and his boys into following him into the back of a nearby store (owned and managed by Lucky’s boss Levon) where they can purchase high quality knock-offs for a fraction of the price of the real thing. It’s a meagre living but Lucky makes enough to dress well, eat and put a roof over his head. He has a girl friend who encourages him to better himself by going to school and overall, he seems to be living a happy life. All of that changes the day Linda, a girl he had a fling with, shows up and thrusts an infant into his arms, explaining that he’s Lucky’s and that he should be a father and take care of the child for two weeks. Lucky doesn’t think the baby (nameless for most of the film) is his (“He’s white! I’m black!”) but unable to call the police and unwilling to abandon the child, he reluctantly tries to make it work.

This is, at its core, the story of Lucky but Prince of Broadway cuts in other lives. We see Linda as she deals with the abandonment of her child to a man who may not even be the father and we also get a glimpse at Levon, an Armenian immigrant whose marriage is falling apart. At the hands of a less talented filmmaker, one might wonder why we’d care about these people when we’re here to see Lucky’s story but Baker interweaves these stories seamlessly into his tale and in fact, they do matter quite a bit as they all play large roles in Lucky’s life and shaping his future.

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Rising Star: Sean Baker’s Take Out & Prince of Broadway

Last year I had the opportunity to see Take Out, the authentic and wonderfully compelling story of Ming, a Chinese food delivery man. He borrowed money to make the trip to the US but he’s fallen behind on his regular payments and now the loan shark wants his money. He sends out a couple of goons to collect the $800, which Ming doesn’t have, but between money collected from outstanding debts and a hard night’s work, he may just make it.

I was impressed by Shih-Ching Tsou and Sean Baker’s debut, a film that shares one aspect of the immigrant story while also presenting the “real” New York. The film is well worth a look and lucky for us, it’s now available on DVD care of Kino.

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