Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989): Uli Edel’s Version of Hubert Selby’s Jr. Novel, Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh

German director Uli Edel has fashioned a grim out of Hubert Selby’s Jr. novel, adapted to the screen by Desmond Nakano, about a group of outsiders and misfits in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood.

Se in the summer of 1952, we get to meet Korea-bound soldiers, teenage hoodlums, tormented gay youths, prostitutes, junkies, and strikers as the live their desolate lives, which intersect.
The book, essentially a collection of short stories, was controversial when it was published in 1964, and the filmmakers deserve credit for making a coherent narrative out of them, unified by the vision of director Edel (who had previously helmed “Christiane F”). 
At the center are half a dozen characters, headed by Tralala (a terrific Jennifer Jason Leigh), a young blonde prostitute, who tends to pick up tricks in sleazy bars, and then takes them to vacant lots, where they are mugged by Vinnie (Peter Dobson), a former convict and his gang.
In a strong performance, Stephen Lang plays Harry, who is in charge of the local strike office, a married man, tormented by his latent homosexuality, evident in his attraction to an effeminate gay youngster.
In a third subplot, Burt Young (“Rocky”) plays Big Joe, a vocal striking worker, who is upset by the pregnancy of his daughter (the young Ricki Lake), about to get married.
The movie is well acted by all around, though be warned, it’s almost relentlessly grim and depressing, displaying Edel’s uncompromised approach to the material.
Harry Black (Stephen Lang)
Tralala (Jennifer Jason Leigh)
Big Joe (Burt Young)
Vinnie (Peter Dobson)
Boyce (Jerry Orbach)
Sal (Stephen Baldwin)
Tony (Jason Andrews)
Freddy (James Lorenz)
Mary Black (Maia Danziger)
Spook (Cameron Johann)
Produced by Berndt Eichinger
Directed by Uli Edel
Screenplay: Desmond Nakano, based on the novel by Hubert Selby, Jr.
Camera; Stefan Czapsky
Editor: Peter Przygodda
Music: Mark Knopfler
Art Direction: Mark Haack
Costumes: Carol Oditz
Running time: 102 Minutes