Monday, June 16, 2008

Romance & Cigarettes (2005)

John Turturro's wrong headed musical dramedy demands much from the viewer, and gives very little in return. James Gandolfini plays Nick Murder, a Queens area riveter who, when he's not riveting, cheats on his long suffering wife (Susan Sarandon) with a saucy, safety-orange haired trollop (Kate Winslet, who does an uncanny Jane Horrocks impression). Nick also has a tendency to spontaneously launch into lavishly staged production numbers of 1960s-era pop and soul hits. At first you think perhaps this is just a device to show how unsatisfied Nick is with his life, and as such, it would have been an effective conceit. But no, pretty soon everyone in the film is breaking (and I do mean breaking) into elaborately produced songs. Eventually, provided the viewer plays along, these musical digressions actually start to work and the film begins to achieve a bit of loft. Then, wham-bam, Turturro changes direction again, and heads the movie down a dark and preachy path, that voids any modest entertainment value this film may have had. In assessing this movie there is really only one thing you need to know: Mary-Louise Parker and Aida Turturro are cast as teenagers. Teenagers! And we are supposed to buy that. There are so many things wrong about this movie, you just have to wonder what on Earth were all these talented people thinking?

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