It would appear Sean Baker is equally comfortable with the real and the surreal. On TV, he's one of the perpetrators of the satirical puppet show, Greg the Bunny. In the cinema though, he's far more grounded, employing a documentary- like shooting style and recruiting a largely amateur cast to tell stories of New York populations that are too often ignored elsewhere. Previously, he looked into the arduous life of a restaurant delivery guy in Take Out, now, with Prince of Broadway, he's casting light on the people who hawk counterfeit fashion to the gullible and the not-so-gullible, and how that market affects their ability to discern truth from fiction.
For Lucky (newcomer Prince Adu), it's a crucial distinction: Early in the film, a former girlfriend of his (Kat Sanchez) shows up, shoves a baby in his arms, tells him the kid is his, and then lights out with her present boyfriend. Meanwhile, Lucky's employer, Levon (Karren Karagulian), is having his own domestic problems: Turns out life with the woman he married purely to get his green card is not all that harmonious, particularly when he thinks the marriage certificate grants him certain rights to -- as the lawyers say -- consortia. It's a neat, understated story, well suited to Sean Baker's stripped-down style and the cast's naturalistic performances.
Baker and I spoke in a room with an overaggressive air conditioner. If you know what New York's been going through these past few months, you understand we needed that industrial-strength cooling. Nevertheless, you'll notice it in my conversation with Baker -- shouldn't be too much of a distraction, though.
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