Suburban no-hoper Tommy Basilio (Buscemi) is having a bad week. Sacked from the garage where he worked after 'borrowing' money from his boss and former buddy Rob (LaPaglia), Tommy's life takes a further dip when the love of his life tires of his losing ways and takes up with his former employer. Finding solace at the bottom of a beer pitcher, Tommy takes a room above his favourite bar, Trees Lounge, where he takes to drinking with unhappy family man Mike (Boone Jr). All Tommy's attempts to get his life back on track are frustrated by his indolence and his love of beer, while his disastrous love life takes an even darker turn when he foolishly sparks an affair with his young niece Debbie (Sevigny).
Buscemi's directorial debut - partly inspired by autobiographical events - is a small and quietly unassuming little gem of a movie. Part gentle comedy, part perceptive, Cassavetian blue-collar character study, it's also tellingly poignant despite it's shaggy-dog style structure fair riveted together by Buscemi's compelling central performance.
As a tender and wise mediation on missed opportunity and the all too easy temptations of the demon drink, its lent depth and compassion by a first-rate supporting cast, from which Buscemi's old cohort Boone Jr manages to especially stand out. Filmed with uncomplicated precision and a keen eye for the slightly surreal, "Trees Lounge" augurs well for future Buscemi efforts and remains one of the most endearing indie pics of recent years.
"Trees Lounge" is on BBC2 at 11.35pm, Friday 9th March 2001.