No Exit – Review

No Exit

with Frank Zagarino, Nick Sandow, Michael Aparo
Written and Directed by Michael and David DiCerto
(Magic Vision Films)
by Mark Phinney

In the past two or three years, the studios have been spewing out a ton of efforts by young, gritty directors fresh out of the film school changing table. The majority of these releases deal with the streets. It is the new crop of Scorsese protégés and, for the most part, the results are worthwhile. Two of the best of the new breed are Nick Gomez’s Laws of Gravity and the Providence-based Federal Hill. The newest find is straight outta Harlem – Italian Harlem, that is. No Exit is a learning experience that teaches when you fuck with the neighborhood boss and your chance to walk away from “the life,” you gotta learn how to take a beating.

No Exit is the first feature from New York’s Michael and Dave DiCerto (cousins, not brothers). Shooting on Pleasant Avenue in Harlem, NY, the cousins bring to the screen the story of Benny and Vinnie, two lifelong pals, always on the make, doing anything to attain a better life and get off the streets. Benny is always on the risky end of things, while Vinnie seems to see situations for what they are and what they can turn into, especially if it means stepping on the toes of Auggie, the Mob boss who runs the neighborhood. Benny has a lot of hang-ups, such as his long lost brother Luka (supposedly whacked by the Mafia), and Luka’s son whom Benny tries to take responsibility for when he can’t even watch his own ass. Vinnie tries to set Benny straight, but begrudgingly takes his word that everything will work out, and it does… for Vinnie, at least. No Exit is a low-budget, indie pic that tackles major-league issues and makes us take a look at our own morals. The DiCertos have a way with sound and cutting that adds a new flavor to an old genre. Throughout the course of the film, you feel for these hoods and the beatings they give and take. This story shows us that on these streets, there really is no exit.