Writer/director Tjardus Greidanus' A New York Heartbeat may be set in 1959 Brooklyn, but its central dilemma is universal, at least if one is a juvenile delinquent. Which path to take: a life of crime, with the promise of easy cash and the risk of physical violence, or the straight life, in the company of a sweet woman, but without the camaraderie of the streets?
Seventeen-year-old Spider (Escher Holloway) wasn't expecting to be making this choice, but ripping off gangster Casket Mike (Eric Roberts) went badly. Badly beaten, Spider is left for dead in an alley, where he's rescued by a young woman named Tamara (Rachel Brosnahan, seen recently in House of Cards).
Tamara is a kind, if reclusive, gal who lives in a seemingly abandoned hotel with her equally reclusive gangster uncle, Didi (TV vet Jack Donner). As Tamara nurses Spider back to health, a tentative relationship grows, both bolstered and threatened by secrets. The story relies on a fair amount of convenience, but there's also a left-field twist or two.
It's a familiar crime-love hybrid tale, but even more recognizable to local audiences will be scenes of Pittsburgh. Greidanus shot Heartbeat here, with our appropriately vintage and grubby streets substituting for mid-century New York.