Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5  
Virgil Bliss (2003)

Here's a story that comes straight out of crooklyn. Shy cowboy Virgil Bliss (Clint Jordan) has just served 12 years behind bars for beating a man half-to-death in a convenience store hold up. Released to a halfway house on the mean streets of New York City, he's only got to get through the next 14 days without breaking his parole and he's a free man.

But between the bad influence of wayward mate Manny (Anthony Gorman) and his longing for tough-as-old-toenails streetwalker Ruby (Kirsten Russell), what are the chances he can stick to the straight and narrow?

Sparkling like a diamond in the rough, "Virgil Bliss" is packed full of the kind of low-life Skid Row characters normally found in the novels of Hubert Selby or Charles Bukowski.

As a first film, it's mighty impressive (it's the debut feature of ex-film critic and sound mixer Joe Maggio), surprising you with its raw, earthy feel and its striking - though occasionally erratic - digital camerawork.

Holding the project together is actor Clint Jordan. His fantastic performance as the shy, 39-year-old virgin with a good heart, but a mean temper, is a sheer delight. Shaking hands with hookers before paying them, calling everyone "Ma'am" and "Sir", while generally doing his best to keep his nose clean, Virgil's a noble, yet tragic, man - a lonesome cowboy adrift in the immoral modern world.

Despite being set among abandoned tenement buildings and crack houses, hardened cons and vicious pimps, "Virgil Bliss" is the kind of film that's far more interested in acting than action.

As Jordan bounces off Russell's totally believable crack addict hooker, it's pretty clear that while this may be a simple tale, simply told, it's also proof that sometimes the best films are those which keep their ambitions modest.

End Credits

Director: Joe Maggio

Writer: Joe Maggio

Stars: Clint Jordan, Kirsten Russell, Anthony Gorman, Greg Amici, Marc Romeo

Genre: Drama

Length: 93 (tbc) minutes

Cinema: 14 March 2003

Country: USA

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