The bus stop is an awkward place for anyone to form a viable connection, especially on the cold, impersonal streets of New York City. “B61,” however, follows a completely credible acquaintanceship that coalesces on a random bus stop bench along the route of the Brooklyn B61.
Vincent, played by Michael Buscemi, who also directs the film, is a bit down on his luck. Mercury is in retrograde, after all. He makes the acquaintance of Sal, played by Francesco Saviano, a mysterious astrologist awaiting his car ride to — wherever he goes with his nondescript black duffel bag every day. Gail Ward plays an anonymous, professional-looking woman, sitting in her regular spot on the bench. She’s a relatively silent observer to the duo’s daily dialogue as she exudes the frigid, apathetic demeanor of a seasoned New Yorker.
The scenes are short and repetitive, but for good reason. Replete with harsh lighting, overcast skies and an uncomfortably soggy look and feel, it conveys a bleak sense of routine, the day by day New York grind.
Buscemi communicates a harsh, palpable reality. These characters are so believable, they seem to be ripped from the streets themselves. These sympathetic caricatures of commuters are recognizable to anyone who has ever taken public transportation. Vincent, Sal and Gail grow on each other exponentially over the course of the 16-minute short as the actors play off of one another perfectly. It’s almost as if this film is a direct snapshot of existence.
The conclusion brings the characters full circle. The plot rounds itself out and leaves the viewer at a poignant, unsympathetic cliffhanger, as if to say “life goes on.”