January 22, 1999
Side Streets is a fusion of contemporary New York City folktales. Director Tony Gerber humorously sketches five different scenarios taking place in New York's five boroughs on a sweltering-hot summer day. Side Streets is based on Gerber's short film, Small Taste of Heaven, which screened at Sundance in 1997. He took that story about a Romanian butcher's apprentice living in Queens and expanded it to include other New York ethnic and cultural communities. In Manhattan, Sylvie, wonderfully portrayed by Valeria Golino, has come to America from Italy to make it as a fashion designer and has only one night left to realize her dream; in Staten Island, Vikram, a proud and aging Indian movie idol (played by Shashi Kapoor, a real Indian movie idol), must find the courage to leave his brother's house gracefully because he has obviously overstayed his welcome; in Brooklyn, a West Indies man tries everything to steal the car keys back from his angry wife so he can cruise around with his buddies in his Cadillac; and in the Bronx, Ramon must prove his love to Marisol by buying her a pageant dress he can't afford. Gerber intertwines the tales just enough to keep the audience guessing about how the characters relate. His meticulous attention to location, wardrobe, and music make it easy to differentiate the story lines. Side Streets takes an honest, gutsy look at New York rarely seen in film, and in the spirit of the city itself, proves that dreams sometimes come true.