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Trees' Lounge: A Path Not Traveled

I found myself saying during this movie, "This exists in every suburban city in America." It's a place where the mechanic who has bitten by the bottle a little too hard goes to lick his wounds, and it's the subject of Steve Buscemi's directorial debut Trees Lounge.

Buscemi is the mechanic in question and his name is Tommy. Tommy has several problems at this moment in his life, and it seems like the least of which is his car. If he stops the engine, the car stalls semi- permanently. If Tommy's a mechanic, how come he can't fix his own car? Some might ask. Well, that's because his now ex-girlfriend (who held that position for eight years) has decided to shack up with Tommy's boss. Plus, she's pregnant. Nobody knows who the father is, even her.

As a result of this, Buscemi likes to drink. Who wouldn't? If life outside Trees Lounge is going so rotten, it's better off to hole up in a place where the hard stuff begins flowing free at about... oh, two o'clock or so. In the afternoon. Bill is a longtime resident of the bar, reduced to the point where he doesn't talk, he doesn't look around, he only sits. And drinks.

Tommy's not that far along yet, but he isn't seeing much reason in not taking up Bill's standard. He tries to pick up a gorgeous young lady (Debi Mazar) with a bar stunt which he wins... until one of the other patrons blows it for him. Besides, she's too liquored to drive him back to her house for a quickie, much less even walk. Tommy has to settle for holding her passed-out hand under a bar table as a reward.

In a seemingly never-ending series of near-misses for him, the local ice cream man (Seymour Cassell) has a heart attack while behind the wheel. This looks good for Tommy as he steps up into the reins... and the kids don't warm up to him. His first couple runs are a bust and he's losing even more money. A local vixen (Chloe Sevigny) steps in as his salesman, and the kids warm to her charm. The ice cream begisn to sell and Tommy's doing okay.

The kids aren't the only ones who warm to her charms, and Tommy begins to notice her (and Sevigny notices him right back). They mess around for a night, and while this is happening Tommy's buddy is out looking for his missing daughter, wondering where the hell she is. She was with Tommy, and her dad takes it out on his ice cream wagon with a bat. There's one of those in every New York neighborhood, I guess...

Buscemi said in an interview with Details that Trees Lounge is a reflection of what his life would have been had he not been so successful as an actor. He admits to carousing a lot in his early days, and Trees Lounge is patterned after his own New York neighborhood back home. Given Tommy's unending streak of snafu's, He's thanking his lucky stars every night.
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