Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets review – bittersweet bar-room endgame

Street-cast characters play fictionalised versions of themselves in this riotous documentary about a closing-down Las Vegas watering hole

It’s the “last day in paradise” for Las Vegas dive bar the Roaring ’20s, which will shut permanently after the evening’s festivities. Over the next 18 hours, as the booze begins to flow, there are several slurred flirtations and a fight. Inevitably, at least one person takes their top off.

The film is directed by Bill and Turner Ross (known for their documentaries 45365 and Tchoupitoulas), and shot fly-on-the-wall style. But elements of this riotous hybrid documentary are staged. The Roaring ’20s is actually in New Orleans, not Vegas, with characters street-cast, and playing fictionalised versions of themselves. Yet the sense of the watering hole as a haven for lost souls – not to mention the threat of gentrification to civic space – couldn’t be more vérité.

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