Rhythm Thief

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


Rhythm Thief is a confident, no-budget foray into the heart of white-boy urban alienation. Making full use of a cast of very good actors (particularly Kevin Corrigan as the obnoxious and misunderstood Fuller), Matthew Harrison has blended a bleak, gritty backdrop, convincing characters, and a gripping narrative in his second feature film.

Simon is a loner, a poor white boy who sells bootlegged tapes of local bands on the grimy streets of New York’s Lower East Side. The money he makes barely covers the costs of cheap liquor and kitty litter, the staples of his meager existence. Simon tries hard to keep his life simple and streamlined despite the constant pestering of Fuller, a tagalong who begs Simon to teach him the bootlegging game. Simon spends his evenings drinking alone, sifting the cat’s litter box and listening to the neighbors yell at each other through the walls of his crappy apartment. The monotony is broken only by Cyd, Simon’s casual girlfriend.

It seems that Simon is willing to do anything to keep his miserable routine intact, but when he is accused of stealing a television set, and the band whose music he has been bootlegging beats him up, Simon finds himself on the verge of losing what little he has made. Reluctantly, Simon finds that he now needs Marty, his old girlfriend, and enlists Fuller to help him get his revenge on the band. But things go badly wrong, and Simon finds himself on the run and facing up to his past.

Rhythm Thief is urban guerrilla filmmaking at its best. Shot on a minimal budget in only eleven days, this film cuts through all the recent clamor and glamor surrounding no-budget filmmaking. Matthew Harrision clearly understands the dubious workings of this shady bunch of ne'er-do-wells and the dreary world in which they live, and portrays them with confidence and clear vision

— Christian Gaines

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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