Dir: Raphael Nadjari. US/Fr/Israel. 2002. 93 mins.

Two qualities distinguish this grungy, ultra-low-budget New York production: John Surman's gorgeously moody saxophone jazz score and the fact that the film, set during last year's cold, grey Thanksgiving celebrations, was apparently one of the first shot to be in the city after the events of 11 September. Otherwise, though, it remains on a resolutely amateurish level in terms of script, performances and technical credits. Limited exposure is likely in the picture's co-production countries of Israel, the US and France (where it is scheduled to open in June), but it lacks the verve to make much of a mark elsewhere.

Nicky and Uri (Tinkerbell and Ori Pfeiffer) are an Israeli couple living in central Manhattan without valid immigration visas and struggling to survive by robbing convenience stores. Moving to Brooklyn, they sublet a small apartment and gradually get involved in the local community. During an argument, Nicky accidentally shoots herself in the leg and Uri flees in a panic leaving her to be cared for by Harold (Richard Edson), the lonely middle-aged janitor of the apartment block. However the building's manager, the unpleasant, wheelchair-bound Max (Jeff Ware), also has designs on the vulnerable young woman.

Nadjari, who grew up in Marseilles and has lived in New York since 1997, has few fresh insights to offer into life in his adoptive city. Edson, formerly the drummer with Sonic Youth and a regular performer in Nadjari's films, has a great cadaverous face, which contrasts nicely with Tinkerbell's fallen-angel beauty. But, apparently allowed to improvise, the actors ramble on aimlessly in a series of unstructured exchanges: it probably does not help that the early scenes between Nicky and Uri are in Hebrew, a language not spoken fluently by the director. A silly melodramatic climax brings the dark and grainy proceedings to a merciful, if unconvincing conclusion.

Prod cos: MK2, Les Films Alain Sarde, BVNG, 2.1 Films, Cinema Factory
Int'l sales: MK2
Prods: Marin Karmitz, Alain Sarde, Geoffroy Grison
Scr: Nadjari
Cinematography: Laurent Brunet
Prod des: Sean Foley
Ed: Tom Donahue
Music: John Surman
Main cast: Tinkerbell, Richard Edson, Ori Pfeffer, Jeff Ware, Olga Meredith