Ramin Bahrani likes to make gritty little movies about people living in the kind of poverty in America that most Americans think only exist other places. Chop Shop is about a boy, maybe 10 years old, who is resourceful and clever and hardworking, and does a pretty good job of taking care of his older sister. He manages to save $4500 to buy a taco truck, only to discover afterwards that he’s been ripped off. Now who’s soulless enough to rip off a 10 year old boy? He should be hung by his balls.
“Chop Shop” doesn’t have the depth or symbolism of Bahrani’s last, “Man Push Cart,” and seems more to want to play off our reaction to the vision of this innocent kid struggling to survive. It’s a good movie, but, to me, sentimentalizing poverty cheapens it and turns it into a product, and “Chop Shop” is, at least slightly, guilty of that.