Tribeca Film Festival: Buffaloed (2019) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Writer Brian Sacca and director Tanya Wexler have delivered what will likely be Zoey Deutch’s breakout indie performance in their new film, Buffaloed (2019). Deutch had already won me over with Before I Fall (2017), but her performance as Peg Dahl in Buffaloed is so outstanding and transformative, that it was like discovering her all over again. This performance is accompanied by a solid script and a compelling story, which definitely takes a few cues from Adam McKay’s The Big Short (2015) and Vice (2018), stylistically.

Don’t get Buffaloed could be a new term for avoiding being hustled

The movie uses that modern trope of the cold open, where we start at a late point in the plot and then jump to the beginning, until we eventually catch up with that moment. In this instance, Peg screams into the camera and starts running – and it is a cool, stylized sequence full of great shots. It ends with her firing a gun into the air, and then Deutch’s voice sets the beginning of the fourth wall breaking, as she resets the story from the beginning.

Young Peg (played by Kate Moyer, who gives a really solid performance as well) is trying to convince her mother to invest $1000 into her start-up company, so that Peg may escape Buffalo. Several jokes are made about this city and its native people throughout the film – but it initially begins in her slide presentation, as she points out her hatred of Buffalo Wings and the Bills. We then see a series of hustles that Peg has used to begin earning money, and her character is crafted in a very fascinating way. She is smart, tough, and willing to break the rules in order to achieve her goal of “stopping trying to not be poor, and start trying to be rich.”

There are at least two scenes that seems to borrow from McKay’s comedic style of explaining more complex topics to the audience. In those moments, Deutch looks at the camera and directly addresses us. It is here that the movie can make anyone with even the tiniest bit debt feel like they are watching a horror movie. Learning the ins and outs of debt collecting was both eye opening and horrifying.

Final thoughts…

Buffaloed ended up being a really good film with an amazing lead performance.  It was both funny and impactful, which was exactly what I was hoping for when I decided to see it. The film earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.

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