The Alley Cat Race is an alcohol-fueled competition that is put on by bike messengers for bike messengers in deserted downtown streets of Chicago in the middle of the night. The Alley Cat focuses on Jasper (Jenny Strubin) who seems to be carrying a painful and emotional secret as she looks to use this race as a way of escaping from the problems in her life. However, after the night takes an unexpected tragic turn, it causes Jasper to take to the deserted streets and embark on a physical and spiritual journey of reflection. In the solitude of the night, with nothing more than her bike and a painful secret, she hopes to find some sort of resolution by the time she reaches her final destination.
Written and directed by Marie Ullrich, The Alley Cat is very much a road movie on a bicycle. Like most road movies it sees our main character not only take a physical journey but also a spiritual journey of reflection and acceptance.
Taking place over night in the beautifully cinematic and mysterious empty streets of Chicago the film makes the most of the available street lighting to great effect, adding significant production value. Director of Photography, Dylan Verrechia, has done a sublime job at capturing each moment from the kinetic race scenes to the more intimate moments. Its even more impressive when you consider how much has been shot in pursuit of the cyclists during the night! It’s also these visuals, that when coupled with the excellent musical choices, often give the film a mesmeric dream like quality that help makes this so compelling to watch.
At the heart of the film is Jenny Strubin, who puts in one hell of an emotional and physical performance as Jasper. She is able to convincingly portray a tortured soul who is in dire need of breathing space and time to reflect due to having trouble holding on and letting go. The rest of the supporting cast of bike messengers have an equally integral role to play as they bring a playful energy and affection with them. Together they manage to convey a real sense of family and camaraderie, enabling you to understand why Jasper felt safe from her worries in their company.
The Alley Cat is a mesmerising film of spiritual journeys and reflection, full of energy, motion and emotion. In following the adventures of Jasper illuminated through the amber glow of the Chicago streetlights we explore heartache, mystery and the fragility of the human sprit. With a lean running time of just 65 minutes, Marie Ullrich demonstrates that she has an enormous technical and creative filmmaking ability.
Make sure you check out The Alley Cat, which screens on Saturday 25th March as part of the first ever Ramsgate International Film & TV Festival and support independent film.
For more information on the festival and ticketing, please visit: Ramsgate International Film & TV Festival