Buddies Sofia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson) are graffiti artists simply getting by. Determined to carve out their place using their hustle, they set their sights on a big score, tagging the New York Mets Home Run Apple. If the city could see their tag on the apple, their reputations will be made.
Problem is that they need to pay a Citi Field worker to get access to their target and that’s where the story begins for our two stars. Clearly the brains of the operation, Sofia constantly checks Malcolm who is prone to boast often but frequently fails to step up.
Malcolm tries to borrow the money from a drug dealer who flatly turns him down. He hustles another small time dealer into getting half of his stash as well as a delivery, ending up at the home of rebellious Ginnie (Zoë Lescaze) who gives him his first crush.
Meanwhile, Sofia is also on her grind. After a couple of kids jack her bike, she swipes one’s cell and tries to sell it at a bodega only to once again find herself on the short end of another disappointing transaction. With time running out to raise the cash, Malcolm and Sofia hatch a scheme to break in and rob Ginnie.
Writer/director Adam Leon’s directorial debut perfectly captures the everyday hustle and bustle of the borough. You can almost smell the asphalt and their desperation as the roll through the streets hustling and surviving. He also benefits from getting two wonderful performances from both of his leads who appear so natural that the film has a documentary feel. While the two friends interact like boys would do with one another, it is easy for Malcolm to overlook that his friend is a growing young woman that other people find attractive.
The film has small genuine details that are amusing but speak to the state that both are going through including Malcolm spending half the film walking around with no kicks after making an unexpected getaway and Sofia getting jacked by another set of graffiti artist after they spotted her tag in their hood.
The film has a Kids-type feel in that it flows so effortlessly and young Washington gives a wonderful performance alternating between being hard enough to earn respect yet tender enough in scenes with Hickson. Lescaze also shines as the bored yet curious uptown girl who finds Malcolm interesting but shuns him in front of her disapproving friends.
While there are eight million stories in the naked city, Leon’s Gimme the Loot is a refreshingly candid expose of a pair of youngster coming of age and trying to make it their way!