Director: Salvatore Stabile | 97 minutes | drama | Actors: John Leguizamo, Leonor Varela, David Castro, Samantha M. Rose, Jerry Ferrara, Adriane Lenox, Stephen Payne, Manny Perez, Frank Rodriguez, Dave Salerno
With Christmas just around the corner, it is of course more than pleasant to have at least your own roof over your head. In “Where God Left His Shoes,” ex-professional boxer Frank Diaz does everything he can to make this happen. Practically without money, without legal work, but with a wife and two children to take care of.
Life doesn’t exactly smile on Frank (John Leguizamo; “The Happening” (2008), “Gamer” (2009)) and his family. Financially it is structurally problematic and when Frank’s upcoming boxing match – his source of income – is also canceled, they will be full of water. After months of arrears, the landlord of their apartment can do nothing more than throw them out on the street. The family eventually ends up in a shelter for the homeless and Frank earns a little extra in the construction industry. After two months they receive a phone call that an apartment has become available for them. The day before Christmas, the world seems to look a lot better again! Seems… Frank will not get the apartment because he has no (white) paid work. The landlord cannot make an exception to the rule for him, but gives him the opportunity to come up with proof of paid work until closing time. So that they can still celebrate Christmas in their own home. Together with his stepson Justin (David Castro) he then starts a race against time in which the setbacks only seem to accumulate …
In terms of story, “Where God Left His Shoes” has many similarities with “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006). Although the latter film brought about more emotions in the viewer, this film is much more raw and realistic. Perhaps this is due to the lack of really big names, but it is also mainly less “Hollywood” that has been put into this production. The main characters are pure, marked by various things in their lives and try to make the best of it. Also the children.
It remains fascinating to see how your standards can fade when you are desperate. To want to maintain the same standards in your upbringing at the same time. For example, Frank steals – in his own words legitimized – in stores, but strictly forbids Justin to do so. In phases, Frank and his family are sinking deeper and deeper. The need is simply greater than the feeling of shame. Driving fare, eating from a restaurant’s trash can, and even begging; that you will then be treated like a leper by people who are right to have them that way. The story is also a statement against (American) society, in which it is difficult to find a job with a good attitude but a bad history. And then you can find out for yourself… Also fascinating in this film is the relationship between Frank and Justin. Justin wrongly seeks confirmation of love from Frank after bad experiences with his own father. Frank, on the other hand, is a real boxing macho, who believes that men should not express that to each other.
The acting performances of both gentlemen are absolutely fine here, as is the atmosphere of the film, with The Big Apple playing a prominent role as the backdrop during the Christmas period. Dramatics in a cold metropolis; it is a proven recipe. The ending will not appeal to everyone, but it is completely in line with the story. And so it should be.
“Where God Left His Shoes” – denoting the apartment the family seems to be able to stay in. That is not much, in other words: God would not leave his shoes there yet – is a beautiful, honest story with a great cast. It is only depressing, so for anyone who already tends to a winter depression: just skip this movie!