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Chop Shop (2007)

tomatometer

96

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 52
Fresh: 50 | Rotten: 2

Filled with excellent performances, Ramin Bahrani's deft sophomore effort is a heartfelt, hopeful neorealist look at the people who live in the gritty underbelly of New York City.

100

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 23
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 0

Filled with excellent performances, Ramin Bahrani's deft sophomore effort is a heartfelt, hopeful neorealist look at the people who live in the gritty underbelly of New York City.

audience

76

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 2,540

My Rating

Movie Info

A street-smart orphan determined to make a better life for himself and his sixteen year-old sister spends his days working in an auto body repair shop in director Ramin Bahrani's gritty coming of age drama. Alejandro may be a young boy on the verge of adolescence, but his tough persona and driving ambition give the impression of a man twice his age. As with many street kids Alejandro has been forced to mature before his time. Now, in a disheveled junkyard on the outer edge of Queens, New York,

Unrated,

Art House & International, Drama

Jul 8, 2008

Koch Lorber Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (52) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (50) | Rotten (2) | DVD (3)

It's a near-masterwork of low-budget precision and improvisation, constructed and rehearsed over many months in collaboration with the actors and the entire Willets Point community.

July 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Salon.com
Salon.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a sharp mixture of neorealist grit and lyricism.

July 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In this clear-eyed, quietly absorbing film, director Ramin Bahrani opens up a wedge of Third World America that operates, all but invisibly, in plain sight.

June 27, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bahrani celebrates those who never give up, no matter how badly their dreams are shattered.

May 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's exciting watching Bahrani explore the possibilities of neo-realism to dramatize penury and disenfranchisement among the service-class in this country.

May 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bahrani blurs the line between New York reality and fiction so effectively that his scripted films feel vibrantly authentic, as if Bahrani had simply discovered his characters and allowed their lives to proceed with a minimum of directorial intrusion.

April 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As much a well-rounded character study as it is an exposé on a certain segment of society on the fringes of American civilization.

March 3, 2010 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

A film brimming with humanity. Gritty, smart, attentive and truthful.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

A film with an incredible sense of place, of space, of how they shape and guide and define us.

December 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

Capturing grungy Queens blocks on the cusp of change as if it's the Third World, where entrepreneurial boys aggressively, and heartbreakingly, take on adult responsibilities.

December 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Film-Forward.com
Film-Forward.com

All these low-level criminal enterprises and idle dreams aren't happening in Mexico City or Kandahar; they're just outside Queens.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club

What Chop Shop does well, is take us into America's hidden Third World for a bit of culture shock.

July 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The raw power of this unassuming snapshot would make Vittorio De Sica proud.

May 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

Skillfully evading bleakness and sentimentality, Chop Shop is a terrifically assured piece of filmmaking.

May 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Metromix.com
Metromix.com

Ramin Bahrani's patient, perfectly-scripted vérité drama doesn't have many plot points, but we're so absorbed in their world that each upset leaves us frustrated and furious.

May 29, 2008 Full Review Source: I.E. Weekly
I.E. Weekly

Lean and gritty, the movie eschews false sentiment, but in Alejandro (Alejandro Polanco), a tough, resourceful 12-year-old who stares down reality and bounces back from his own miscalculations, the movie boasts an anti-hero who inspires hopes.

May 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

Chop Shop has the feel of a foreign film, but what is most likely to horrify audiences is that it's set in America.

May 9, 2008 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Italian Neorealism makes an American comeback

April 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

The ambiguous fates awaiting Alejandro and Isamar are resonant and unforgettable.

April 15, 2008 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Audience Reviews for Chop Shop

Chop Shop has that gritty, indie feel to it... probably because it IS an indie film. Written and directed by Ramin Bahrani who seems to have a great eye for capturing various slices of that great social experiment that is NYC. His prior works include Man Push Cart, the story of an immigrant who makes his way by being a street vendor.

Here Ramin trains his camera microscope cinema verite' style on the industrial area that abuts the old Shea Stadium. Full of small wherehouse spaces with roll up doors that are home to row after row of car repair shops; all dealing in cheap parts which may or may not have come into their inventory by suspicious means.

At the core of the film is Alejandro (Alejandro Polanco), a young ethnic hustler who "procures parts", and works the street, ushering prospective buyers towards his bosses' shop. On the side he is learning the craft of auto repair, especially painting and bodywork. His boss allows him to live in a small loft room at the back of the shop, and once he has secured the room, he makes contact with his semi-homeless older sister and invites her to share the room.

We make discoveries about the sister, and see that family is very important to Ale. It is his dream to restore an old Roach Coach so his sister can cook and make a decent living instead of being the fetch it girl for another coach owner.

The acting throughout seems very natural and there is a certain gritty, real feeling to the action, as if the camera was simply allowed to follow the characters around and record the day-to-day happenings. This is both a plus and a minus, as it gives the aforementioned realism but also allows for some editing issues.

Still, the net result is satisfying and I felt invested in the character of Ale who keeps on keeping on in spite of a broken dream. When the film abruptly ends with no resolution you get the feeling that the intention was to let the viewer have a peek into the lifestyle around the chop shop before you hear the clanking of the metal door coming down and keeping you on the outside. Welcome to third world America.
July 24, 2011
maxthesax
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

I liked it, but didn't love it. It doesn't even really feel like a movie; it's more like you are getting a glimpse into a child's poverty stricken life. It doesn't feel like Alejandro Polanco is acting, it feels like this is his struggling life. Has good camera work, good performances and good direction, it just wasn't anything that I was expecting.
December 11, 2010
itsjustme2004

Super Reviewer

This is a great slice of life film that I really enjoyed. Simple to the point where it might turn some people off of the film, I have always thought this style of filmmaking adds a true ripple of suspense. Most everyone who watches films like this one keeps waiting for the worst to happen (as if being an orphan living over a garage isn't horrible enough), but what is surprising about this film is the surprisingly touching moments that happen in what are already dire situations. The cast of non actors are great. Alejandro Polanco (who plays the lead little boy in the film) is fantastic and has a great natural sense about him without it seeming cheesy. There are some times when you are reminded that they are not professional actors, but it really doesn't matter because I found myself being so wrapped up in the story. Well written and directed film by Ramin Bahrani.
November 16, 2009
tsigur

Super Reviewer

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