STATEN ISLAND is another of those movies I’d never heard of. It’s a quirky independent crime drama that plays out in three interlocking storylines. The first concerns the boss of a low-level syndicate crew (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) who is obsessed with doing something to get his name in the history books, whether it’s becoming the next big crime overlord or setting the world record for holding his breath underwater. The second storyline concerns a young man who works as a septic tank cleaner (Ethan Hawke), and he’s ambitious, too, but not for himself. He wants the baby he and his wife plan to have to be smarter than he is, and he’s willing to do anything to make that come about. Finally, the third storyline is centered around an elderly, deaf mute deli worker (Seymour Cassel) who slices meat and has a rather grisly sideline.
These plots all circle around and tie in with each other, manipulating time in ways that make it a little difficult to follow what’s going on at first, until the sequence starts to become apparent. It’s a grim little movie with some moments of unexpected humor here and there. The acting is fine all around, with D’Onofrio his usual goofy but compelling self, Hawke very earnest, and Cassel unexpectedly poignant. STATEN ISLAND is an odd movie, arty at times, violent at others, but I liked it fairly well. I think it’s worth watching.