Romance & Cigarettes

"Weak"

Romance & Cigarettes Review


John Turturro's dream project Romance & Cigarettes is a gutter-style jukebox musical with chutzpah to spare and which doesn't know when to quit. It's all here: Singing garbagemen! Catfight in a SoHo lingerie store! Hot-to-trot Kate Winslet as a scorchingly foul-mouthed Irish hussy. Toe-tapping Christopher Walken in full strutting peacock mode, driving an old Detroit beater with a license plate reading "BoDiddley." A wife screaming at her husband, recently discovered cheating, "I trim your nose hair!" Family, infidelity, and a basketful of pop tunes for everyone to sing along to -- Ute Lemper to Connie Francis to Bruce Springsteen to James Brown to Tom Jones to....

Somewhere in all Turturro's chaos is a story about Nick Murder (James Gandolfini), a blue-collar schlub with a stolid wife, Kitty (Susan Sarandon), and a trio of slightly cracked daughters -- Constance, Baby, and Rosebud (Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro, and Mandy Moore, respectively) -- who function partially as a junior set of Furies but are mostly there to bash out songs in the backyard as part of the three-piece bubblegum garage band they've formed. In short: Nick's a two-timing bastard who's stepping out on the wife with Tula (the previously mentioned Irish hussy), a fact Kitty doesn't take to overly well, and numerous friends and family get dragged into their scuffle and forcing everyone to occasionally bust out in song.

In even putting together this rambunctious car-wreck of a concept musical Turturro has guts, there's no denying. The film is an earthy mélange of low-down trash talk and high-flying concept pieces, resulting in a few moments of serious pop poetry amidst the squalor; Dennis Potter meets Bertolt Brecht. Turturro also seems to have cashed in a mountain of favors to corral this uniformly fantastic cast, with Gandolfini, Sarandon, and Aida Turturro all showing more smoke and fire than they have in a long time. Even the uniformly excellent Steve Buscemi, playing an idiotic cretin co-worker of Nick's, steps it up here with some howlingly perfect delivery, and the fact that Winslet is actually able to make Tula into the paragon of dirty sensuality she's written as is no small feat.

Because of everything that Turturro does right, it's even harder then to report that Romance & Cigarettes is by and large a complete wreck. Transitions between scenes are raggedly patched together. Some of the larger concept numbers, such as an embarrassing dud of a piece where firemen show up to literally hose off a too-hot Tula, fall flatter than (in the overdone parlance of the film) a roadkill pancake. The stunt casting is simply out of control, with Broadway vets like Elaine Stritch and Tonya Pinkins popping up just long enough to steal their few minutes of screen time and then drop out of sight again, and Eddie Izzard leading Kitty's church choir for no apparent reason.

Romance & Cigarettes is the baroque opposite of the year's other musical surprise, Once, a piece that went for minimalist honesty at every juncture, just as this one goes for excess whenever possible. This is the kind of film that's so overripe that a line like, "You must think I'm the cucumber in the gardener's ass," is not even particularly noticeable. The ragged whirligig of pulp karaoke delights, such as it is, comes to an end long before the film closes, though, with a lengthy dirge of a final stretch that seems to be striving for some sort of spiritual and artistic clemency for everything that has preceded it. The maudlin scenes drag on for eternities in the same way that earlier scenes jumped and shouted for your attention; they're both victims of the same kind of directionless excess.

Somebody's gonna get whacked for making me dance.



Romance & Cigarettes

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

Box Office USA: $0.4M

Distributed by: Boroturro

Production compaines: GreeneStreet Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 28

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Jana Edelbaum, John M. Penotti

Starring: as Nick Murder, as Kitty, as Tula, as Angelo, as Baby, as Constance, as Cousin Bo, as Gene Vincent, as Rosebud, as Fryburg

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.