[vimeo http://vimeo.com/95136721]

Stay Cold, Stay Hungry focuses on two people who are searching for a meaning, some purpose to their lives.  However, the redemption that recovering addict, Manny, seeks by mentoring to young Harley comes at a steep price.  The viewer learns early in the film that Harley is not what he seems: from his expensive backpack and grooming supplies to the hipster parties that he attends, discussing overseas trips with his friends.  You often read articles online about people going “undercover” to experience the plight of homeless and raise awareness of the terrible conditions homeless people face.  For others it is an opportunity to appreciate the lifestyle they are currently living in.  Yet, with Harley, you do not get the sense that his imposed “homelessness” is derived from noble intentions.

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Manny, locked out after failing to make it to home before curfew, sees Harley struggling to create a proper knot for his tarp cover.  The two spend the night looking out for each other as they try to get some sleep.  The pair reconnect, when Harley attends Manny’s AA meeting, looking for free food.  It was interesting to see Harley discussing with his friends that AA meetings have the best food, trading tips on how to survive being “homeless.”  Guess it would be too much to go home or pay for actual food.  I found myself asking was this truly a game to Harley to see how long he could go without using his funds.  Manny takes Harley under his wing, seeing this as an opportunity to be an effective parental figure.  Constantly failing to reconnect with his own family, Harley becomes a placeholder for the family that Manny has loss.

Every choice that Manny makes to improve Harley’s situation only serves to highlight Harley’s selfishness.  From keeping Manny out too close to his curfew to allowing him to refuse entry into a life changing program, Harley clings to Manny, almost basking in the attention that Manny bestows upon him.   Pushing further into his lies and deceit, the possible consequences never seem to enter Harley’s mind let alone what will happen to Manny when he decides to return to normal life.  It also seems strange that Harley is able to drift around aimlessly without raising a flag from his parents.

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The film has a slow, suspenseful buildup to the revelations of Harley’s lies that will lead to the inevitable confrontation.  Both Steven Hill and Johnny Marra give brilliant performances.  While Manny believes that he is imparting wisdom and a second chance, Harley only seems to be playing a game, stringing Manny along as far as he will take him.  The film has a constant contrast between Manny’s selflessness and Harley’s selfishness.  When presented with several opportunities to either confess or just walk away, Harley refuses to let go of Manny.  Like prized possession, Manny proves to be too valuable to let go until the final confrontation of the two characters.

 

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