Coming to theaters this Friday from writer/director Puk Grasten and Film Movement is a look one night of murder with “37.”
It is 1964 in Kew Gardens, Queens as families are dealing with their individuals problems. Archibald (Michael Potts) and Joyce Smith (Samira Wiley) are moving into a family building with their son Troy (Marquise Gary). On another floor is Mary (Maria Dizzia) and Bob Cunningham (Jamie Harrold) with their son Billy (Evan Fine).
There is the elderly couple George (Thomas Kopache) and Florel Bernstein (Lucy Martin) with their granddaughter Debbie (Sophia Lillis) who waits for her mother’s return. Finally, the door man Gonzales (Adrian Martinez) is aware of everything happening in the building.
On this particular night, Kitty Genovese (Christina Brucato) would be brutally murdered and witnessed by 37 different neighbors — no one intervenes!
Potts as Archibald is a man who is trying to toughen up a doll carrying son by drilling his head with boxing. Wiley as pregnant wife Joyce sees what is happening and talking about it only brings arguments. Gary as Troy is watching both his parents deal with their own hardships and has difficulty as any little boy would. I immediately felt bad for him.
Dizzia as Mary has issues with her son and instead of discovering what is causing it all, uses the three strikes corporal punishment. Harrold as husband Bob seems to just want to run away from it all but lets be honest, both parents have completely checked out of life and Fine as Billy pays the ultimate price.
Kopache as George is a grandfather who is trying his best to deal with a young girl who clearly has mental health issues. Martin as Grandmother Florel tries to keep everything relatively easy going but also knows lying to their granddaughter will backfire. Lillis as Debbie is in a world of her own created with the help of George. This is a kettle boiling hot and when it blows — stand back!
Martinez as Gonzales is the typical doorman who wants to get through the night as quietly as possible and without incident. Hearing what is going on outside the building, I actually was furious that he could have made the difference for Kitty Genovese but fear got the best of him.
Other cast include: Lynn McCollough as Dorothy, Sawyer Nunes as Mark Cunningham, Nancy Ozelli as the Mowbray Sister, Don Puglisi as Sam, Sophia Anne Caruso as Lisa, and Amanda Jones as Hannah.
The story of Kitty Genovese is a difficult one to tell at best. Leaving her job and arriving home at 3:15 in the morning, she was observed by assailant Winston Moseley. He attacked Kitty and was heard by neighbors who did not call the police even though they heard the young woman cry out.
It would be revealed that after attacking Genovese, he left the scene as the woman made her way into a near by building. Moseley would return to find the woman struggling for life and attack her again, took money and left her in the hallway. A neighbor woman would find Genovese still alive waiting for police. Kitty Genovese died an hour later on route to the hospital.
“37,” although set in 1964, could just as easily be place into today’s setting. As families are struggling with their own individual situations, turning a blind eye can easily happen. Grasten brings in issues of fear, mental health, family dysfunction and inability to connect with one another to the forefront.
The sad truth is that Kitty Genovese becomes almost a footnote to everything else in the film. Watching the couple count the number of apartment lights instead of calling the police was more than a bit disturbing in its presentation.
It isn’t until the red flashing lights of the police begin to saturate each apartment do those living their take a notion to discover what has happened. Director Grasten presents the story from the neighbors point of view leaving the results open for a long discussion by viewers and I guarantee that will happen.
In the end — this film will be seen and heard.