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Fifteen-year-old Howie loses just about everything and everyone in the space of a single week, but ends up finding himself in the process. His mother has just died. His father, a building contractor, can barely keep tabs on his young girlfriend, let alone his own son. Thusly, the teen must navigate his adolescence virtually unsupervised. Floating towards an ill-behaved existence, Howie and his crowd begin robbing houses in the middle-class neighborhoods off the Long Island Expressway. Together, he and his best friend Gary break into a place belonging to an old guy named Big John, a local man who is a respected pillar of the community. When Big John fingers Gary for the crime, Howie learns that his pal has been leading a secret, dangerous but also alluring double life. Subsequently, we also discover that Big John has secrets of his own. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The poem Howie recites in the car is "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" by Walt Whitman. See more »
When Marty parks his car to confront Howie and Gary in the parking lot, he obviously parks it in a vacant lot (no other cars are around). However, when he returns to his car a few moments later, several cars have now appeared in the parking lot although there hasn't been time for them to arrive and park. See more »
L.I.E. Long Island Expressway. You got the lanes going east, and you got the lanes going west. And you also got the lanes going straight to hell. Lot of people died on it. Harry Chapin, Alan Pakula, the movie director. You probably heard of them. But you never heard of Sylvia Blitzer, my mom. She died on a crash on Exit 52. I really miss her. It's taken a lot of people and I hope it doesn't get me.
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This story rings true because it's something that happens in the real world all the time, whether people want to admit it or not. The film captures events and emotions that are complex, challenging, and confusing.
Howie, a young, intelligent, good-looking boy attracts attention from the same sex and isn't sure how he feels about it. He meets "Big John", and finds himself fascinated and impressed by the man's life, flattered and a bit scared at the attention he shows, and also somewhat repulsed by the man's attraction for young boys.
John, for his part, begins the relationship from a position he's quite familiar with: using his power as a worldly and canny adult to manipulate someone else. He feels physically attracted to Howie, but as they spend more time together, he sees the depth of the boy's character and a sensitivity similar to his own. Howie brings out the good side in John (and some people may be shocked that the film shows how a pedophile can have a "good side", but this is reality and it is well depicted).
Howie's feelings are excellently illustrated as they run a wide spectrum: confused, repulsed, lonely, defiant, confident, aroused, at times even suicidal. I empathized with and admired the character, and found myself rooting strongly for him to rise above the tragic and frustrating circumstances in which he found himself. In the end I felt a sense of triumph as we saw that, despite his unfortunate situation and his own flaws and weaknesses, he does possess the strength and character to face the world and become his own person.
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