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Filmex Reviews : 'Streetwise'

March 15, 1985|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

USA, 1984, 92 minutes. 12:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Here is a documentary so good it could wither your heart: a portrayal of a dozen or more street children in Seattle's slums--most between the ages of 13 and 19, runaways eking out a living as thieves, whores or pimps, all with that special twisted radiance, that sly crooked energy, that comes from living out of your nerves every day, living down and dirty, with paranoia as a second skin. Names and faces will stick with you indelibly: Rat, Tiny, DeWayne, Shadow, Lulu, Patty and Munchkin--caught, it seems, at each crucial scene in their slim, deadly, racing lives, caught as if in well-staged fiction by a crew of movie makers who seem to be everywhere, godlike (director-cinematographer Martin Bell; photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark, and writer Cheryl McCall). Documentaries are often only as strong as their subject, but occasionally you see one that, catching its subject completely and lucidly, with all skill and compassion, winds up going far beyond it. . . . That's "Streetwise." RECOMMENDED.

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