Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Loanshark (2004)
Available from Jennings Films | Review by Pinky Royale

Teddy (flawlessly played by Charlie Santore) has a problem. He's a Cash Collector for a suave, if not a little bitchy, uptown Loanshark. The problem is that his Boss doesn't approve of Teddy's heavy handed techniques for collecting on delinquent loans. You see, Ted is of the Old School: you pay up or you get a tire iron to the knees, you pay up or your kid gets shot in the mouth, you pay up or you get a cement chapeau and lunch with Mr. Limpett. Loansharks these days, LEGITIMATE Loansharks, don't operate like that, and Teddy is stuck between two worlds– the days of yonder when a ice pick to the nuts was SOP, and now, when you end up in small claims court when you're 3 months late on that $2000 loan.

Teddy's other problems are a dead-beat dad who is always needing money for various "Get Rich Quick" schemes that turn into "Get Poor Quicker" schemes, a girlfriend who chews with her mouth open (he didn't mind much, annoyed the bejeezus outta me), and an Ex-Of-Some-Sort who acted as a daily alarm clock, gently easing him out of bed every morning by kicking in his door and assaulting him with a sailor's mouth, pert nipples, and some pressing matters concerning rent, or the lack thereof. Yep, that Teddy is one smooth operator who is quickly getting in over his head with everyone around him, from his incredibly irritable Boss to his bench sitting Old Man of the Streets mentor / friend / father-figure-he-never-had.

Teddy is a despicable piece of shit who was born into a 15 car pile-up of a life, but aside from that he's really just a guy trying to make his rent on time who could use a good kick in the ass by a Father Type who'd take him out for ice cream afterwards. You get the feeling at times that he does enjoy the aura of his job, whipping out a huge wad of cash, helping out a 'friend' here and there, old faces that emerge from the crowd, only to resubmerge again for the good of all involved parties. But really, when you boil it all down, he's just a punk with a gun and nowhere to go but down.

You can't blame him though, considering what he has to go through 50 times a day, trying to get money out of people who borrowed it on good faith, only to "forget" or not be able to get together the repayment until next week, a perpetual next week when some phantom promise of work or riches lie in wait. All they do is come up short, lie to him, rip him off, and give him a rash of shit, as if he made them take the money in the first place. He works with Shit Bags everyday, therefore, he becomes one. But through it all, he at the very least maintains his honesty. He doesn't lie, and even when punching a priest in the head or getting a blowjob from a deadbeat hooker at gunpoint, he maintains that small amount of respectability. Christ, I don't blame him really. If I had to deal with all the cheap, dishonest, and shit-eating Bastards that he had to deal with everyday, I'd be busting heads too, Boss be damned.

This is a film about accepting responsibility for your actions. In this movie, as in present day America, people's glaring lack of accountability make for problems for them, their families, and for Teddy, because if Teddy doesn't get the money he was sent to collect, it's his ass once he reports back to Mr. Big, so you better believe he's gonna take it outta your ass first. It's a film about self-preservation, desperation, a blinding lack of basic money managing skills, and what happens when you're a deadbeat dad (hint: you end up with a scab of a kid who loathes every arcane twist in your putrid DNA while becoming more and more like you every goddamned day of his miserable, nicotine encrusted, so-called life).

LOANSHARK is a tidy little flick that is well-acted (for the most part, there's a few obligatory stilted scenes, but they don't really take away from the general sliminess of the film). Sadly, you're never presented with anyone to root for, and in the end, you wish everyone would get hit by a runaway cement truck. But that doesn't happen. It's a good film, and clocking in at 60 minutes, you can give it a shot and not feel too cheated if you don't like it.

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