Excellent film, but a bit harrowing
Based on the once-banned novel by Hubert Selby Jr., this drama takes a look at the seedy world of pimps, hookers and transvestites in Brooklyn, New York in 1952.
The mean and desolate streets of Brooklyn are home to a host of unhappy, hopeless characters stuck in dead-end lives. A young self-destructive prostitute, named Tralala (Jennifer Jason Leigh), emotionally numb from having sold her body so many times, regularly leads her prospective clients to a dark alley where a gang of petty criminals who roam the streets in search of passion and excitement, beats and robs them; Harry, a corrupt union leader who cannot deal with his repressed homosexuality; and a young girl's father refuses to admit that she is eight months pregnant. All these stories take place in a world waiting to explode: local workers are engaged in an angry strike against a nearby factory, while, not too far away at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, soldiers sail daily for Korea, many never to return. The personal and the political intermingle in this bleak look at poverty, drugs and violence in the inner-city in the early 1950s.