A downtowner named Eleonore (Hendricks) runs up to a young woman she seems to know. The other party is confused (“I’m sorry, I don’t remember you…”) as Eleonore slyly slips the handbag of her “friend” onto her own shoulder. This feral thief has a thing for snatching other people’s stuff, be it a sack full of kittens or a purse in an LES bar. That last find yields keys to a Volvo, which she impulsively uses to drive a friend (Safdie) to Boston. Eleonore’s phantom existence appears to be remarkably Zen, until a playground ruckus reveals just how deep her pathology goes.
Viewers should fight the immediate urge to lump Joshua Safdie’s lo-fi, low-key character study into a certain indie-niche category; despite the Beantown tangent and some peripheral scenes at a Ping-Pong club in Chinatown, we’re a long way from the Bujalski-Swanberg world of lazy, hazy hipsters. While Safdie clearly shows his influences, notably Pickpocket and Shadows, his way of warping this Gotham neorealistic tale into something truly offbeat suggests a singular sensibility. The chance to discover a raw talent like this (who’ll convince you that every movie deserves a dream sequence featuring a polar bear) is a pleasure indeed.