Without Air

on 11 April 1997 by Susan Lambert
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   Watching this edgy, black-and-white slice-of-life story is like spending 24 hours with the "civilians" in the reality TV show, "Cops." These are destitute characters, locked in addictive, abusive lives, and they, like the audience, keep waiting for something, anything, to break them out. Lauri Crook gives a riveting autobiographical performance as Shay, a small-time stripper and musician living on the verge of self-destruction.
   For all the raw performances, strong cinematography and hyper-realism, the characters ring false because they are given no breathing room. Highly acclaimed as a music video and commercial director, filmmaker Neil Abramson has a stylish way with the camera, but his story, like its characters, ends up with nowhere to go and no reason to be there.    Starring Lauri Cook. Directed by Neil Abramson. A Phaedra release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 90 min. Screened at the '96 Sundance fest.
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