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REVIEW OF “I LOVE US”

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When a man born into crime falls in love with a single mother, the existence he’s never questioned collides with his hope to be a family man

Danny Abeckaser and Kate Cassidy/Courtesy Vision Films

Reviewed by Ishrat Jahaiara Quazi: “Shut the fuck up,” yells Sammy waiting for a couple to leave the jewelry store so that he can go rob it. The heist goes well until life has something else planned for Sammy Silver, the criminal on the go.

“Shut the fuck up,” yells Sammy waiting for a couple to leave the jewelry store so that he can go rob it. The heist goes well until life has something else planned for Sammy Silver, the criminal on the go.

Danny Abeckaser’s I Love Us, written by Kosta Kondilopoulos, is a family-style crime drama that dives into Sammy Silver’s attempt at giving up the criminal ways for the love of his life. “Attempt” is the keyword here because things don’t go as he wished they would. 

TRAILER/I LOVE US

The film starts with Sammy (played by Danny Abeckaser) robbing a jewelry store and then catching the nearest bus after finishing the job. On the bus, he meets Laura Fenton (played by Katie Cassidy) and immediately starts flirting with her. He asks her if she wants to get dinner with him but she kindly refuses because she has to work. Upon asking, she reveals that she works at Vincent’s as a waitress. Sammy lies and says that Vincent’s is his favorite restaurant and that he’d love to grab dinner until she gets off work at 10 pm. Sammy narrates while being at the restaurant, “no one messes up a plate of pasta at Vincent’s.” He orders a glass of wine and waits for her. She finally joins him and Sammy tells his second lie, that he works as a ‘diamond dealer,’ more like a diamond stealer but Laura doesn’t know that yet. Their relationship quickly grows and that’s when Laura shares with Sammy that she used to be married but her husband died from pancreatic cancer. She also shares that she has two daughters, Audrey (played by Harlow Jane) and Rachel Fenton (played by Jasper Polish), because she wants to be serious with Sammy. He doesn’t care that Laura has kids from her previous marriage because he’s madly in love with her. He promises that he’s there for the long run and this time he isn’t lying. When Sammy finally gets to meet the kids, Audrey is more open to him while Rachel keeps making snarky remarks towards him.

Fast-forward to a year later, the couple gets married and everyone is there except for Sammy’s dad, Harvey Silverman, who is played by Robert Davi. We don’t know why his dad wasn’t there at the wedding. But, when Sammy meets up with him later he gives him an envelope full of cash as a wedding gift. Not only that but, his dad also presents him with a new heist job. The only problem is Sammy doesn’t want to lie to Laura anymore. Harvey tells him to come clean to Laura and just do the job and a few more to secure his life with her. Sammy doesn’t completely agree with Pops but he doesn’t say no either. 

Next, we’re introduced to Ira Prince, the main reason why Pops sends Sammy to all these heists. Another reason why Sammy agrees to these jobs is that he’s a huge gambler which led him to lose a lot of Ira’s money. With all this unpaid debt to Ira, Sammy has no choice but to go back to his criminal life. However, during one of his petty thefts, he spots Laura on the sidewalk and soon drives away from the scene, unable to go through with the job. He tells Harvey, his dad, that he can’t keep doing small jobs and needs to go on a bigger heist that will be enough for everything. Right when he’s having this conversation, he receives a phone call saying that Laura has been in an accident and she died. Sammy takes care of the girls after that tragic incident. When he returns from a beach trip with the girls, Ira is waiting in the parking lot in front of Sammy’s house. He isn’t happy with the fact that Sammy was missing his calls. Sammy explains that he was out with the girls. Ira tells him to take time off and get his head straight so he can come back to ‘work’. Ira also gives Sammy an envelope full of cash to get food for the girls and tells him to keep his phone on alert. 

Things go downhill very quickly from there. One minute the girls are fighting over a treasured teddy bear and the next child protective services show up at the house saying that they can’t live with Sammy until his case is finalized. The case, in this case, is Sammy getting adoption rights to the girls. Ms.Campos (played by Courtney Lopez) explains it’s part of the process to have someone stay with girls until Sammy gets his rights so he chooses Rob Fenton (played by Greg Finley), Laura’s brother, which does become an issue as he’s an alcoholic and a drug addict.

From thereon, the story follows Sammy balancing his life with the girls, waiting to settle his adoption case, and dealing with Ira and the ‘big’ heist that would set his life once and for all. 

I Love Us is a 96-minute film and every minute is filled with so much detail. 20 minutes in and you already know Sammy’s reasons for his crime-filled life and you also know Laura’s story with girls and everything. The characters are really well developed however, I am a bit sad and annoyed that Laura just died out of nowhere. But, it makes for the story and the way the girls developed their relationship with Sammy. We also see how Laura’s death affects the girls, Sammy, and Rob. It’s the little additions and glimpses of their life that tie the story together. Even though there are a few parts that seem like they could’ve been cut.

Apart from the drama, it’s a crime film at its core. The way the scenes move in and out from Sammy working on the ‘big heist’ and him spending time with girls, Kondilopoulos and Abeckaser doesn’t give you a chance to forget that it’s a family crime drama film. Abeckaser is great at his role as a smooth criminal who seems to have a stroke of luck that is sometimes on his side and other times isn’t. I will admit it was a bit cringy to see him cry, maybe he could work on that. But, I loved his character. And, there are a few laughable scenes like Sammy’s interactions with his associates and other scenes between side characters. I also really enjoyed Cassidy’s chemistry with Abeckaser. I think they played well off of each other until she died. Like they say, till death do us part. The girls, Jane and Baskin were good too. Their love-hate relationship with each other and Sammy was well portrayed. Most of the cast did a decent job with their characters. The good on-screen chemistry among the characters made the film more enjoyable. 

Abeckaser did a good job directing and narrating the story. The narration added a bit of humor to the story as he was reacting to his character’s choice throughout the movie. It also helped explain a few scenes to the viewer in case they were confused by the plot

I always believe a movie could be shorter but, as I said earlier I’ll let it pass for this one because it was fun to watch. Join Sammy on his heist for one last time and don’t forget to grab some terrible pasta (from Vincent’s) as a movie snack.

The film stars Abeckaser (The Irishman), Katie Cassidy (When A Stranger Calls, Supernatural), Robert Davi (The Goonies, License to Kill), David James Elliot (JAG),   Jackie Cruz (Orange Is The New Black), Greg Finley (iZombie, The Secret Life of the American Teenager), Jasper Polish (The Astronaut Farmer), and Harlow Jane (Dig).

The supporting cast includes James Madio, Courtney Lopez, Elya Baskin, Eliad Nachum, Duke George, George Andreakis, Rodney Rinks, Frank Florio, Diana Madison, and Dana Davis.

I Love Us is written by Kosta Kondilopoulos and produced by Kyle Stefanski, Mike Hermosa, Jeff Hoffman, and Abeckaser. The film will also be executive produced by Ron Rofe, Isaac Gindi, Eddie Gindi, Gustavo Nascimento, and Katie Cassidy.


I LOVE US
 – from filmmaker Danny A. Abeckaser is coming to VOD on September 17

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