A violent, harrowing, but oddly tender adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr's novel about life in a working class Brooklyn neighbourhood in the '50s. In this harsh, poverty stricken enviroment, human feeling is sacrificed to expediency as prostitute Tralala (Leigh), union leader Harry Black (Lang), and assorted workers, hustlers, wives, pimps and homosexuals struggle to survive. While a strike at a loca factory explodes into violent confrontation, Harry uses embezzled union funds to explore the homosexual desire provoked in him by transvestite Georgette (Arquette). Tralala, meanwhile, frightened by an offer of love she cannot comprehend, plunges into a rampage of self destruction. From the fragments of an experimental novel, Edel has forged a remarkably coherent whole, cross-cutting from one story to another while retaining a precise delineation of character, picking out slender, golden threads of compassion and love from a bleak tapestry of pain. Not a comfortable film, but humane and savagely beautiful.