Trees Lounge

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Trees Lounge
Trees Lounge film poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteve Buscemi
Produced byBrad Wyman
Chris Hanley
Written bySteve Buscemi
Music byEvan Lurie
Distributed byLive Entertainment
Orion Classics
Pioneer Entertainment
Release date
  • May 11, 1996 (1996-05-11) (Directors' Fortnight)
  • October 11, 1996 (1996-10-11) (United States)
Running time
95 min.
Budget$1.3 million
Box office$749,741[1]

Trees Lounge is a 1996 comedy-drama film and the debut of Steve Buscemi as writer and director. It was produced by Brad Wyman and Chris Hanley and features a large ensemble cast of actors, including Buscemi, Anthony LaPaglia, Chloë Sevigny, and Samuel L. Jackson. The film's black humor, based on examination of characters' self-destructive behavior, has been cited as an influence by The Sopranos creator David Chase, who later hired Buscemi to direct "Pine Barrens" and three other episodes of the show, and to star as Tony Soprano's cousin Tony Blundetto during the show's fifth season.[2][3]

It was filmed in Glendale, Queens; Brooklyn; and Valley Stream, New York.[citation needed]


Tommy Basilio is an alcoholic and fixture at a local bar, the Trees Lounge, who loses his girlfriend of eight years and his job as a mechanic. After his Uncle Al dies while driving his ice cream truck, Tommy goes to his wake and indulges in cocaine with his brother and cousins. Tommy takes them to the Trees Lounge to carry on drinking, but a brawl breaks out between his cousin and Mike, another regular. After buying more beer at a late night convenience store, Mike and Tommy discuss how Tommy stole money from Rob, the owner of the garage where he lost his job. They discuss how Rob is seeing Tommy's ex-girlfriend, Theresa, who may or may not be bearing his child.

Mike turns out to be the owner of the moving company across the street from the Trees Lounge. Tommy asks for work, but Mike says he doesn't need a mechanic. Tommy takes on Uncle Al's ice-cream round, but children initially do not buy from him. Theresa's flirtatious seventeen-year-old niece, Debbie, joins Tommy on his round, saying she had a dream about him. Mike's wife and daughter have left him because of his drinking, and tell him they plan to move upstate. Debbie and friend Kelly go to the Trees Lounge but are unable to prove they are of legal drinking age. Debbie claims her "boyfriend" Tommy will vouch for her. Mike, Tommy and the two girls are at Mike's house drinking, but the latter three are thrown out when Mike's wife calls.

Tommy and Debbie spend the night together. The following morning, Tommy runs into Debbie's father Jerry, who was looking for her the night before. When Jerry finds out his daughter was with Tommy, he assaults him with a baseball bat and wrecks the ice-cream truck. After Theresa has her baby, Tommy tries and fails to make amends. When Tommy returns to the Trees Lounge, he hears that an elderly regular named Bill collapsed has been taken to hospital gravely ill. The barmaid and other regulars discuss how someone ought to visit Bill the hospital, but they forget about him as they carry on drinking. Tommy sits in Bill's regular seat and stares at the glass of beer, realizing what he has become.



The film premiered at the Directors' Fortnight at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 1996.[4] It was released theatrically in two theaters in the United States on October 11, 1996.[1]


Critical reception[edit]

Trees Lounge's critical consensus remains highly positive; it has garnered an 80% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 25 reviews (20 positive, 5 negative).[5] Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars out of 4, stating "Steve Buscemi, who plays Tommy and also wrote and directed the film, knows about alcoholism from the inside out and backward, and his movie is the most accurate portrait of the daily saloon drinker I have ever seen."[6]


Trees Lounge earned Buscemi nominations for Best First Screenplay as well as Best First Feature (along with producers Brad Wyman and Chris Wyman) at the 1997 Independent Spirit Awards, though it didn't win.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Trees Lounge (1996)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  2. ^ "Steve Buscemi (II)". The Guardian. London. July 17, 2001.
  3. ^ Jeffrey Ressner (2007). "Directing the Sopranos". DGA Quarterly.
  4. ^ McCarthy, Tom (May 14, 1996). "Trees Lounge". Variety. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  5. ^ "Trees Lounge". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 25, 1996). "Trees Lounge". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 13, 2010.

External links[edit]