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Tommy Basilio (Steve Buscemi) is a 31 year old barfly. An umemployed auto mechanic with quick wits and a huge chip on his shoulder. A master of repartee, he spends most of his nights at his favourite bar, Trees Lounge, hunched over a shot of Wild Turkey or trying to pick up one-night stands. When he loses his pregnant girlfriend to his best friend and former boss, he makes an attempt to put his life back together. He finds temporary salvation driving his deceased uncleís ice cream truck, but gets dangerously close to his seventeen year old helper, Debbie (Chloe Sevigny). Lessons arenít learned easily by Tommy, but he does find a disturbing truth about himself in the last place he expectsÖ

"Trees Lounge is a curious choice for actor Steve Buscemiís directing/writing debut. Having admired his work as an actor for so long, there was considerable anticipation and expectation surrounding this film. But I was disappointed. Itís not the fact that itís a character driven piece that portrays a slice of life. Nor is it that the performances arenít memorable. My problem with the film is that while the characters are clearly drawn, and they are very real, there is no emotional journey. In short, the script doesnít work. We can easily relate to Steve Buscemiís character of Tommy, the harmless, likeable loser, and the people by whom he is surrounded. He has never recovered from losing his girlfriend, and somehow life conspires against him. Even when his car is stationary, a truck runs into it. When he gets a girl to agree to come home with him, she goes to sleep before leaving the bar. Itís Murphyís Law. And while we empathise with both Tommy and the people around him, we donít engage with him enough to actually be moved or indeed care very much what happens to him. And thatís the trouble. Perhaps Buscemiís semi-autobiographical script, influenced by John Cassavetes, is too laid back, too self indulgent. Perhaps he lost sight of the importance of caring about the characters. A bar where people meet and hang out is often the heart beat of the local scene, and we should become emotionally engaged. Trees Lounge is snail paced, and while there is no doubt there is considerable talent aboard - Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony La Paglia to name just two - itís a sad, disappointing encounter."
Louise Keller

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CAST: Steve Buscemi, Chloe Sevigny, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony La Paglia, Danny Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Carol Kane, Debi Mazar

DIRECTOR: Steve Buscemi

PRODUCER: Brad Wyman, Chris Hanley

SCRIPT: Steve Buscemi


EDITOR: Kate Williams

MUSIC: Evan Lurie


RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 4, 1997
(Sydney only; other states to follow)

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