Coney Island Cousins Image

Coney Island Cousins

By Bobby LePire | May 20, 2024

Writer-director Alfred “Al” Padilla returns with a unique blend of comedy and thriller in Coney Island Cousins after a decade-long hiatus. The story kicks off with Val (Diana Sillaots) reuniting with her cousin Yulia (Upa Inspace) after a long separation. Yulia, an aspiring actress and stand-up comic, takes Val on a wild adventure involving an elderly gentleman and some recreational substances. However, the night takes a dark turn when the gentleman, Max (Gregory Korostishevsky), overindulges and tragically passes away.

Yulia freaks out after discovering the body. Much to her surprise, Val remains cool and calm and figures out Max was rolling in the dough. Deciding that both she and her cousin deserve better than the life they have, Val angles to buy a few high-priced items and change their delivery address to a P.O. Box. The women will pawn the products and split the hefty sum. Unfortunately, complications show up at the door in the form of Max’s mistress, Marleen (Janice Messitte). So, the cousins get reinforcements from Yulia’s comedian friend Lucious (Rashad Bashir). Can Val and Yulia hide the dead body long enough to fence their ill-gotten goods? Or will this accident that they tried covering up change their lives for the worse?

“…will pawn the products and split the hefty sum. Unfortunately, complications show up at the door…”

Coney Island Cousins has a lot going on storywise. Val and Lucious have instant chemistry, but she’s married, though it’s on the rocks. Yulia seems jealous of Val from the jump. Val works as a nurse but really wishes to open a dance studio. While it may seem overstuffed, it all fits nicely within the 93-minute runtime. Well, mostly, anyway. There’s a turn toward family drama near the end that doesn’t feel natural to the numerous other plot threads or core situation at hand. Admittedly, it makes the ending more impactful, but it seemingly comes out of nowhere and is not sprinkled throughout the cousins’ interactions organically.

Part of what makes the finale land is the cast. Sillaots sells the switch from seemingly meek to badass, taking control effortlessly. Inspace sells the drama and comedy quite well. Her stand-up act is hilarious and awkward. Messitte is annoying and menacing in equal measure. Bashir is sincere and sweet throughout.

Coney Island Cousins is an ambitious tale that mainly works. The direction maintains the numerous story beats well while the cast inhabits their respective characters excellently. While a late-in-the-game narrative thrust is not developed quite enough to ultimately work, it does not take away from the excellent time that preceded it.

For more information, visit the official Coney Island Cousins site.

Coney Island Cousins (2024)

Directed and Written: Al Padilla

Starring: Diana Sillaots, Upa Inspace, Gregory Korostishevsky, Janice Messitte, Rashad Bashir, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Coney Island Cousins Image

"…an ambitious tale that mainly works."

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