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JOHNS

USA, 1997 (MIFF 1997, International)

Director: Scott Silver

David Arquette gives an emotionally charged performance as the frenzied yet deter­mined, perpetually moving street hustler in Scott Silver's Johns. The film details a day in the (low) life of Arquette and pal in prostitution, Lukas Haas, a seven week veteran of the flesh trade. Johns will invite comparisons to Midnight Cowboy - a compliment Silver would surely welcome - in its downbeat portrayal of a seedy subculture and the attendant lifestyle.

On the day before Christmas John (Arquette), who has spent the night crashed out in a park, discovers that his cherished sneakers have been stolen, along with the bankroll he had stashed in them. The money was to be used to buy himself a birthday present - nothing extrav­agant, just as a hotel room so that the weary hooker could "be somebody" for even a little while - and between a prickly girlfriend and a drug dealer that he has stiffed, John doesn't look like having a very festive Yule.

Silver has incorporated stories he gathered from real hustlers into his authentic, tragicomic script and has elicited commendable perfor­mances from a cast which includes cameos by Elliott Gould and Keith David. Jokns is a richly textured film further bolstered by an assured visual sense.

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