Monday, March 20, 2006

Romance & Cigarettes (15)

John Turturro, 2005, USA (115 mins)
James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi

Ambitiously aiming for a lumpen lyricism with a semi-musical take on the travails of working-class domesticity (and male self-pity), John Turturro sadly pulls up short of delivering a Dennis Potter dreamscape. Gandolfini¹s middle-aged average joe falls for a Winslet on the side – a redhead Brit as linguistically acrobatic as she is physically voracious – and, strangely enough, wife Sarandon doesn’t take kindly to his new ‘beaver diet’. Uppance, in various forms, beckons. A veritable jukebox of jittery pop-song comments and congruences gets lip-synched or sung along to as Gandolfini (no soprano here) successively suffers castration anxiety, catholic guilt, circumcision and a bigger C, and an eccentric entourage of family and neighbours dip in their oars. But, despite pedigree (a kill-for cast; Coen Bros production credits), the odd bit of energetic panache, and palpable envelope-pushing intent, the pic’s eventually hobbled by a curiously scattershot syntax and ragbag grammar – most of its failures lie in the twixt-trax fades and segues. Paul Taylor

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