A rich character study that captures the inner lives and unexpectedly astute insights of brusque, macho, old-school New York guys and the women in their lives, Glass Chin is similar in vibe and payoff to last year’s small gem The Drop, which starred Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini.
In Glass, Bud (Corey Stoll) is a once-promising boxer trying to eke out a living, exiled with his girlfriend and dog to Jersey after his hopes crashed around him. When slick mobster J.J. (Billy Crudup) offers him a chance at redemption, it’s immediately obvious to the viewer — but not to Bud — that there will be terrible strings attached. When payment comes due, questions of ethics force Bud into a position of saving himself at the expense of an innocent bystander’s dreams.
Writer-director Noah Buschel’s script is peppered with both offbeat humor and philosophical debates that circle back to what is, at heart, a class critique that skewers everything from the art world to the bougie dreams of the common man. His cast is stellar — Crudup, slick, menacing, magnetic, and repellent all at once, almost walks off with the film, but also strong are Stoll as a gruff but fundamentally decent guy who gets in over his head, and David Johansen, Marin Ireland, and especially Yul Vazquez (who brings a homoerotic tension to his homophobic Roberto, J.J.’s right-hand man) in supporting roles.
The actors home in on Buschel’s bitingly angular rhythms and this crew’s working-class and nouveau-riche accents and vernacular. If Buschel sometimes leans a bit too hard into his disdain for pretension, it’s never at the expense of the truth of his characters or their situations.
Written and directed by Noah Buschel
Opens June 26, Cinema Village
Available on demand