By Merle Bertrand | February 12, 2001

Everyone says that love will strike when you least expect it. The newly homeless man (Alex Fernandez) trolling along Hollywood Boulevard for loose change can probably identify with this sentiment. The harder he scrounges, the more frustrated he becomes, both at his lack of success and at the hassles those around him toss his way. It’s when he sits still, nursing a cup of coffee, that passersby start tossing change in his cup, unbidden.
Before long, the man has become a veteran panhandler, returning to his shopping cart with a mound of change at the end of each day. To his credit, however, he doesn’t seem too happy with his new lot in life; the busted golden pocket watch he retrieves from his rumpled suit jacket offering up a clue as to why. It seems as if the man wasn’t always in these dire straits. Something, somewhere, went wrong.
Increasingly despondent as time goes by, he continues to rake in a heap of cash, apparently oblivious to his growing fortune. When at last he realizes it, he purchases a new suit, gets a shave, and looks like a new man. When he accidentally bumps into an attractive woman (Vanie Poyey) who not only acknowledges his existence, but actually smiles at him, there seems to be hope that the man will finally be able to rejoin society.
Yet change accumulates slowly, whether it’s silver and filling up a cup, or whether it’s an attitude adjustment. In this film’s ambiguous ending, it remains an open question as to whether or not this man’s loose change will change the man.
In fact, this film might just be a bit too ambiguous for its own good. Alex Fernandez does a fine job as the mysterious, ever-more apathetic homeless man, while DP Sergio Berry’s grainy black and white photography perfectly fits the film’s gritty mood. Yet, while director David Diaz’ brooding silent film succeeds in painting a complex portrait of the man in a relatively short time, it’s frustrating not knowing more of his history. One can’t help feeling that the story not told here, the cause of this man’s misery, is every bit as interesting as the effect that we do see.

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