‘Straight to Netflix’ needn’t be a derogatory term – there are still gems to be found on the streaming platform
“If a movie premieres on Netflix, is it still even a movie?” asked the American film critic David Ehrlich last week, stoking an ongoing, still-heated industry debate over the streaming giant’s handling of the new films it exclusively acquires, making them skip the cinema circuit entirely. For more tradition-bound cinephiles, “straight to Netflix” has the same stigma “straight to video” once did, though in the case of so-called Netflix Originals such as Adam Leon’s Tramps, it really shouldn’t.
Leon turned heads at Cannes a few years ago with his sparky urban caper Gimme the Loot; his equally bright-eyed but more woozily romantic follow-up confirms that promise. Like Leon’s debut, it’s a lively run around the fringes of New York City. Callum Turner and Grace Van Patten, both wholly adorable, play hard-up kids scrambling to salvage a botched criminal job to which they’ve been reluctantly assigned. A MacGuffin of a briefcase is switched, the chase is up, puppy love blooms. Leon plays unapologetically on dusty Hollywood templates, but at no expense to the film’s breezy youthfulness. He has a 21st-century eye for street life and an eager ear for chatter. It’s a little film, but with a big-screen soul – the Netflix branding shouldn’t distract from that.