Caught a screening of Trees Lounge at IFC Center. While a lesser actor-turned-director might have found the challenge of juggling on- and off-camera duties for the first time to be intimidating, Steve Buscemi seems to have relished the opportunity to craft his own character from the ground up (rather than tailoring his interpretation to fit another storyteller’s vision), delivering a career best performance as Tommy Basilio, an unemployed barfly whose only discernible talent is self-sabotage.
It would be inaccurate to say that this sad sack of a protagonist lacks ambition; he does have aspirations beyond chugging beer, snorting cocaine, and getting laid. But his poor choices and moral failings (and, more importantly, his consistent refusal to take responsibility for them) have cost him his career, the love of his life, and any pretense of happiness, making the eponymous hole-in-the-wall his sole refuge from his crippling depression. His agonizingly slow journey toward some semblance of enlightenment is either the saddest comedy or the funniest tragedy ever committed to celluloid.