Tribeca 2019 Review: Zoey Deutch is a Force of Nature in Buffaloed

Zoey Deutch is one of those performers who should have a bigger movie star career yet hasn’t quite taken off. Even though she’s been in big studio films, the films she’s appeared in haven’t served her talents very well. In addition, her latest film Buffaloed proves that she’s ready to reach leading-lady status since she is an absolute force of nature. She’s a force as a producer on the film and of course, as a performer.

In Buffaloed, Deutch plays Peg, an overly ambitious girl from a working-class part of Buffalo who lives with her loving mother (Judy Greer) and well-doing brother JJ (Noah Reid). She always thinks big and will concoct whatever scheme that is necessary to climb her way to the top. With her determined business eye and fast-talking tongue, Peg goes to drastic lengths to pursue the American Dream. After a stint in jail with an opportunity to attend an Ivy League school getting stripped from her, Peg decides to enter the shady world of debt collecting.

Peg seems like a hard person to root for. However, Deutch is still devilishly charismatic as the ruthless anti-heroine. She’s like Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street only without the excessive drug use and no Y chromosome. Even as she enters a line of work full of cutthroat men, Peg still refuses to let them intimidate her.

Speaking of the cutthroat men, one actor who is a surprising standout is Jai Courtney as “Wizz,” the most powerful debt collector in the area who initially takes Peg under his wing. Unlike some of his previous work, Courtney has found a role that seems to play into his skill set.

Along with Courtney, Judy Greer manages to steal the show as well. In typical Judy Greer fashion, Greer demonstrates her reliable sensibilities as a deadpan comedienne while orchestrating sly dramatic heft. She even gets to have a big monologue towards the end which would easily be her Oscar clip if she ends up in contention. After years of great supporting work, she’s certainly earned that kind of recognition at this point.

The pathos in the storyline involving family ties is what allows Buffaloed to avoid being a clone of The Wolf of Wall Street. Admittedly, because of its vivid editing, depiction of an ill-fated pursuit of the American Dream, and its sharp screenplay, it’s hard not to think of the Scorsese satire. However, the film is still its own entity because its anti-hero is arguably more sympathetic and it demonstrates frustrated working class people trying to thrive in a classist, “dog eat dog” world.

In closing, Buffaloed is quite a fireball of a movie. Its filmmaking pulls no punches while leading actress Zoey Deutch is an explosive force of nature. From start to finish, it is a thrill ride full of comedic chaos and subtle yet searing human emotion. An absolute marvel of a film.

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Matthew St.Clair

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