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The Independent Critic

Leni Irizarry, Kent Nusbaum, Frank Ondorf, Darren Smith, Lila Star
Peter Bowse
Peter Bowse, Tyler Edens
22 Mins.

 "Lakeshore Drive" Gets Started on Film Fest Circuit 
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Photo Courtesy of Lakeshore Drive 

This black-and-white neo-noir short director by Peter Bowse captures the retro vibe and the linguistic histrionics necessary to effectively sell its noirish elements in telling the story of Kim (Lila Star), a trans woman we meet in the back of a taxi driven by Roger (Darren Smith), an acquaintance from high school. Trying to escape a life of prostitution and the clutches of her pimp, a crooked cop with an evil glare (Frank Ondorf), Kim is all steely-eyed determination with an ample dose of revenge on her mind as she clutches her cigarette, because every noir seems to involve smoking, and shares her story to a half-listening, half-shut down Roger. 

When Kim's pimp shows up in the cab and demands to know where she's been dropped off, suddenly Roger faces a major life decision - will he risk his own life to save hers? Or will he save his own hide and pony up the information?

It's a credit to co-writers Bowse and Tyler Edens that the role of Kim looks and feels like your average 1940's dame, though one can't help but admire their commitment to telling this important story about a city's marginalized persons and the abuse of power. 

Filmed on location in Chicago on a micro-budget, Lakeshore Drive is an ambitious film that accomplishes quite a bit in terms of dramatic impact despite the inherent challenges of convincingly selling a stylized, noirish story on a low-budget. While the film is definitely hindered in spots by a slightly muddy sound mix, Lakeshore Drive's heightened scenes of drama are particularly effective with Frank Ondorf upping the creep factor and turning into the kind of guy you wouldn't want to meet alone in some darkened Chicago alley. 

Alexander Lakin's lensing is mostly effective, though the budget saving use of a front projection backdrop to help sell the film's constantly moving taxi definitely mutes the film's overall dramatic impact. 

With its noirish approach and trans central character, there's no question that Lakeshore Drive should find a home on the indie/micro circuit and could likely see some interest from smaller LGBT fests if they choose to go that route. 

To find out more about the film or to follow its festival journey, visit the Lakeshore Drive Facebook page. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic