Release Date: May 30, 2008
Starring: Alejandro Polanco, Isamar
Gonzales and Carlos Zapata
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 84 minutes
Distributor: Koch Lorber Films
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Executive Producer: Peter Saraf
Producer: Lisa Muskat, Marc Turtletaub
and Jeb Brody
Writer: Ramin Bahrani and Bahereh
Address Comments To:Suzanne Fedak
Koch Lorber Films
22 Harbor Park Drive
Port Washington, NY 11050
Phone: (516) 484-1000
Along the way, however, Isamar becomes a prostitute, and Alejandro begins to steal and work at a local “chop shop” which disassembles stolen cars for parts. Alejandro and Isamar are able to get money to buy a used, broken down mobile-food van, which represents their dream. However, the van is beyond repair and cannot meet health codes. Alejandro ultimately strips it down and sells the parts. The movie ends with no clear resolution to any of the issues.
CHOP SHOP is a “slice of life” story Alejandro and his world in the Iron Triangle. All the shots are long and the action fits the humdrum of these people’s lives. In some ways, it often feels more like a documentary than a narrative story. There is no clear plot in the traditional sense, and the conflict is mostly internal as when Alejandro discovers that his sister has become a prostitute. While the story does not mirror traditional storytelling, viewers do begin to care about Alejandro. However, the abrupt ending is not satisfying. Viewers will want to know more.
Alejandro is a mixed character. On one hand, he is responsible and hard working. He locks up the body shop and works very hard at his job. He has a good friend his own age and is able to find happiness in the midst of the difficult circumstances. Yet, he has also been absorbed in to the world of adults where he lives. He drinks beer, steals and discusses sex with his friend as if he were an adult. Isamar has given in to her questionable friends and often Alejandro sounds more like a father to her than a little brother. Isamar goes into a life of prostitution in order to buy the van, in hopes that a food business will be their way out of their tough circumstance.
CHOP SHOP contains many instances of foul language, mostly coming from Alejandro. In fact all the negative elements, except for prostitution, involve this young teenager, which makes the elements even more disturbing. There are a few minor fistfights among the characters. Overall, it’s a small movie with some objectionable elements that opens the window to the lives of the poor and homeless living in the inner city.
Alejandro is a mixed character. On one hand, he is responsible and hard working. Yet, he has also been absorbed in to the world of adults where he lives. He drinks beer, steals, curses, and discusses sex with his friend as if he were an adult. Isamar gives in to her questionable friends, turning to prostitution. Alejandro often sounds more like a father to her. The content in CHOP SHOP warrants extreme caution.