01-19-2018  7:40 am      •     
Kam Williams, Special to The Skanner News
Published: 11 January 2011

Laneya Wiles and David Rhein in

In "The Big Shot-Caller," Jamie Lesser (David Rhein) is a nearsighted nerd with two left feet who has wanted to learn to Salsa dance since he was child. Now an adult, he regrets never pursuing that dream and merely leading a lonely existence in New York City where he works as an accountant.   

Finally feeling his oats after receiving a promotion at work, he summons up the courage to attend a Salsa party at a Manhattan dance studio. Inside, the terminally-awkward wallflower is approached by Elissa (Laneya Wiles), a gorgeous Latina.

The two hit off and, at the end of the evening, leave together for his apartment. Thus begins a whirlwind romance which unfortunately ends as abruptly as it began when Elissa disappears and stops answering his text messages.

Heartbroken and depressed over the loss of this his first love, Jamie loses his job, and then his home. With nowhere to go, he grudgingly turns to his estranged sister for help.

He and Lianne (Marlene Rhein) haven't seen each other in over a decade, basically because they're polar opposites. He's an atheist. She believes in God whom she refers to as The Big Shot-Caller. He's boring, she's a vivacious dynamo. He can't dance. She's quite accomplished, having frittered away what should have been her most productive years in nightclubs.

So, despite the fact that Lianne is a struggling bartender, Jamie is now dependent upon her for charity. He moves in, and has to eat crow as the two of them start sorting out the source of their deep-seated sibling rivalry.

Their resurrected relationship is at the center of "The Big Shot-Caller," a sibling rivalry dramedy marking the impressive writing, directing and acting debut of Marlene Rhein in the lead role of Lianne. Curiously, she cast her real-life brother David to play Jamie which explains why the execution of her semi-autobiographical script comes off as absolutely authentic.

A most-appealing indie flick made on a modest budget.


Excellent (4 stars)


In English and Spanish with subtitles.

Running time: 90 minutes

Studio: Vanguard Cinema

DVD Extras: Behind-the-scenes featurette and the theatrical trailer.


To see a trailer for The Big Shot-Caller, click here


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