MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Bridge and Tunnel’ Gets Long Island Right

Bridge and Tunnel Feature Photo

Film: Bridge and Tunnel
Starring: Ryan Metcalf, Arjun Gupta, Mary Kate Wiles
Directed by: Jason Michael Brescia

Simply speaking, Bridge and Tunnel is the film I didn’t know I was waiting for. Director Jason Michael Brescia follows up his 2012 release The Newest Pledge in a complete directional change. This story fuses elements of humor, realism, tragedy, and camaraderie in a tale that isn’t flashy or forced. But to be honest, I think I enjoyed this movie because I am living this movie.

The plot takes place in current day Long Island, NY, where 20-somethings struggle to pave their lives’ paths in a post-educational world. In a community that has been stricken with economic collapse and a natural disaster as destructive as Hurricane Sandy, the stresses of facing adulthood make the future seem meek, underwhelming and likely just as unfulfilling. But that grim attitude can’t always reign supreme for the New York natives, as the promise of lifelong friendship will always be the driving force keeping their ship afloat.

I may not be quite at the point in my life where I’m looking to get married or have kids, but I’m sure that juncture isn’t too far off. I was born and raised in Long Island and will wholly embrace the regional quirks portrayed by the likes of Joe Murphy (Nate), Ryan Metcalf (Sal), Arjun Gupta (Terry) and the rest of the cast. Whether you’re from Queens or San Diego, every area has their own habits and go-to references. This film manages to represent the area in which it takes place, with only one or two shoehorned bagel or pizza references. It also doesn’t hurt that the male leads are perfectly complimented by some of the most talented and beautiful actresses that Brescia could’ve gotten hold of. Mary Kate Wiles (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries), Natalie Knepp (Orange Is The New Black, Think Tank) and Annet Mahendru (The Americans, The Blacklist) hold their own in charm, quirk, and purveyance.

The nuance of Bridge and Tunnel was set by a score created by Ryan Hunter (NK, Envy On The Coast) and a handful of original tracks recorded just for the soundtrack. The Long Island roots are strong with John Nolan’s (Taking Back Sunday) track “Here Come’s The Wolf” and Vinnie Caruana’s (The Movielife, I Am The Avalanche) “It’s Been Way Too Long.” If you listen close to one of the bar scenes, you’ll be sure to notice the boys in Bayside playing in the background. Rightfully so, because beer tastes better when Bayside is riffing.

Character development is key in Bridge and Tunnel. When I first finished watching the initial cut of the film, I almost felt like I was waiting for my screen to offer me episode two. That wasn’t for a lack of closure or a concise ending, but because the individual characters truly had an identity that was independent of the surrounding cast. Of course, there’s the college-educated funny guy bartender, the romantic and gullible indebted lawyer, the beautiful independent small business owner, and the devout Giants fan who thinks it’s funny to joke in his DUI counseling sessions. But even the knuckleheads in this flick show genuine depth; you can relate to them and you understand them, probably because you grew up around someone just like them.

For a feature that manages to include dramatics as upsetting as arrest, violence, drug abuse and even death, you aren’t in gut-wrenching pain by the end. I’m not sure if the filmmakers had a direct intention on how you should feel at the end, but I’d like to think it’s different for everyone that watches it. The use of killer cameos helped to counter-balance the heavier moments. I’d say the regular appearances by Mike Jones, who you may remember as the WWF wrestler “Virgil,” or stand-up comedian Kurt Metzger being arrested in an alcoholic’s counseling session add to the lighthearted positive energy. Oh, and Wass Stevens makes every scene he’s in that much better.

For those who aren’t experiencing some of the issues that the characters in the film are dealing with, it would be easy to shrug them off as “First World Problems.” But I have a bone to pick with those dismissive people. The characters of this film have always had a place to live, a car to drive, and food to eat. So have I. But that doesn’t negate the fact that having $100,000 in student debt is an enormous and depressing undertaking. It doesn’t change that those around us who may appear to be happy could be abusing prescription medication or that understanding what love is will never be an easy thing to do.

For a truly localized and independent film, Bridge and Tunnel hits the nail on the head. The acting, the original score and soundtrack and the locations are authentic and well thought out. It doesn’t hurt that it all comes together on the Long Island Rail Road; a lot of us locals know how that goes.

GRADE: A-

Review written by Derek Scancarelli

Derek Scancarelli

Derek Scancarelli is a feature writer, interviewer, videographer, photographer, radio-er and more. In 2015, he received his MA in Journalism in New York City. In addition to Under The Gun Review, Derek has worked with Noisey (VICE), Alternative Press, New Noise Magazine and many more. He also pushes some buttons at SiriusXM.

Comedian Jim Norton once called him a serial killer on national radio. Enjoy the internet with him on Twitter.
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