New Internationalist

Chop Shop

November 2010

Directed and co-written by Ramin Bahrani

Alejandro, or Ale (Al-ay) as he’s known, is a 12 year old, living with his teenage sister above a car-repair workshop. Ale’s life touting, selling, and sometimes thieving, the junkyards and ramshackle parts and repair businesses all around, the lack of streetlights and sidewalks, the flooding when it rains, suggest a setting in the Global South. But this is New York as few will have ever seen it, in the Iron Triangle area of Queens, close by the Shea Stadium and US National Tennis Centre.

Ale has no parents, doesn’t go to school, and never stops working, helping in the repair shop, selling candy on the subway, and, in a one gripping ‘action’ scene, snatching a handbag. But he has a natural intelligence, and is determined to build a better life for himself and his sister, stashing away his money with the idea of buying a van from which they can sell fast food.

Neither idealized, nor made a victim, Ale’s drive and commitment is impressive, and his innocence touching. This is great life-affirming realist cinema, and though it is appalling that it’s hardly featured in cinemas in the US or Europe, it’s now available on dvd.

A triumph of realist cinema, Chop Shop is now out on DVD.

This column was published in the November 2010 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Chop Shop

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Chop Shop Fact File
Star rating4

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Film

All Film

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 437

New Internationalist Magazine issue 437
Issue 437

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.