A little natural light and a lot of New York City street photography goes a long way in Sheer, a guerrilla-shot neo-noir. First-time feature-film director Ruben Mazzoleni and co-writer/producer Juan Cruz Pochat's heist-gone-wrong plot isn't especially well executed: The film's protagonists never really look like they need to get from plot point to plot point with particular urgency. But the atmosphere is memorable, cooked up by cinematographer Daniele Napolitano and all five of the city's boroughs, where the film was shot in black-and-white on a D-Cinema digital camera. Street-smart Joe (Michael Jefferson) gets his cipher-yuppy friend Nick (Aaron Barcelo) involved in a needlessly convoluted scheme when he asks Nick to hold onto a mysterious bag overnight. Joe predictably goes missing by the following morning, leaving Nick to figure out what to do next. Unfortunately, nothing, not Nick and Joe's respective romantic aspirations, nor Joe's issues with his alcoholic father, and especially not the pair's encounters with stereotypical immigrant gangsters complete with trench coats and fedoras works as well as Sheer's seductive look. Still, Pochat and Mazzoleni's deliberately mundane dialogue lends the film a believability, and there's lots of promise here, especially in its quiet, kinetic view of NYC streets. This modest crime drama is infused with the joy and expectation that only comes from young filmmakers instinctively awed by their urban surroundings. Simon Abrams
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