Romance and Cigarettes

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Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi

Director: John Turturro

If you love movies and music in equal measure and you think that an average movie can become a great movie simply through its soundtrack matching its visuals then this is the film for you. If on the other hand you are looking for the kind of explorations of love marriage and life that Woody Allen used to make, then this too will be of interest. I must admit that until a good 20 minutes into the film I found the singing of the soundtrack by the characters on screen very pretentious but all was turned around by one moment of greatness. That moment was when you heard the refrain of Elvis sing “If your looking for trouble…” as Christopher Walken entered the story and walked away with the rest of the picture. It really is one of the great movie entrances. After this moment, the story, which was bordering on disaster, picks up and we have a great little film.

That’s not to say that Turturro’s first film doesn’t have mistakes, it has many (especially bad lip synching and continuity problems), but in a film about life, these mistakes are quickly rectified and the learning curve the director takes is mirrored by the characters on screen. There are many crude moments in this film and the dialogue can be spicy to say the least. For example, we have Kate Winslet telling us that she wants Nick Murder (THE SOPRANOS James Gandolfini) to stick his finger up her backside and that’s one or the least offensive things she says (her speech about the fact that when she kisses other women who have had lip jobs she’s actually kissing their arses as that’s where the fat comes from is a sobering moment). It’s a shock to hear dialogue like that (as said that’s a milder example) but it’s the fact that these memorable words are backed up by an even more memorable performance by Kate Winslet that really shocked me. She is simply brilliant as Tula the red-hot red head. Steve Buscemi also deserves an honourable mention as the “provider of interesting facts” throughout the film, most of which stick in your mind, true or not.

The musical numbers in the film are excellent but it is the way the story unfolds that really captures our imagination and pulls at our heartstrings.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: Go and see this – it’s the soundtrack to other people’s lives.

4 out of 6 stars