A stilted period piece about a hood torn between his life of crime and the kind beauty with whom he falls in love, A New York Heartbeat is equal parts affected hardboiled posturing and starry-eyed schmaltz.
In 1959 Brooklyn, Spider (Escher Holloway) and his low-level crew — who all speak in New Yawk accents as phony as their second-rate West Side Story mannerisms — steal $10,000 from a crime boss (Eric Roberts). While escaping with the loot, Spider saves Tamara (Rachel Brosnahan) from a gang of bullies, suffers a severe beatdown for his heroism, and is promptly taken by Tamara back to her apartment, where she tends to his wounds and, via a series of cornball glances and charged touches, warms his heart.
Spider finds himself debating whether to return to his old ways or try to make a new start with Tamara, a process complicated by Tamara’s old-school gangster uncle (Jack Donner), who doesn’t want his niece hooking up with a street urchin like Spider.
Shot by director Tjardus Greidanus in self-conscious noir-y shadows, and featuring an absurd late revelation about Spider’s identity that literalizes the character’s saint-sinner nature, this lurching, stagey melodrama resembles the type of Off-Broadway play that would close after a two-week run.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 2, 2014