ROMANCE AND CIGARETTES
Cast: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Mandy Moore, Christopher Walken, Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro, Eddie Izzard
A down-and-dirty musical set in the world of working-class New York, tells a story of a husband's journey into infidelity and redemption when he must choose between his seductive mistress and his beleaguered wife.
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With the musical genre being hugely successful within the last few years with thanks to the famed director Rob Marshall (Chicago and Nine), it’s great to see a film that belongs within the same genre that also breaks the traditional rules. Romance and Cigarettes (dir. John Turturro) is not your ordinary musical film.
Directed and written by John Turturro (who starred in the Transformers series (dir. Michael Bay), Anger Management (dir. Peter Segal) and Barton Fink (dir. Joel and Ethan Coen)), his screenplay focuses on the hardships of love, family and passion in a dark and surreal way that helps to make the film watchable all the way through.
The story is about the break-up of married couple Nick Murder (James Gandolfini) and Kitty Kane (Susan Sarandon) after Kitty finds out that Nick has been having an affair with local prostitute Tula (Kate Winslet). From there, we see how the split couple try to cope being alone, with Nick talking to his workmate Angelo (Steve Buscemi) and spending time with Tula, while Kitty is happy with her daughters and attempts to stop Tula with the help of Cousin Bo (Christopher Walken).
With the story focussing on working class New York residents and not being made to look very glamorous, it offers a more gritty and realistic attempt towards the musical genre that is accompanied by a great soundtrack list and a dark approach towards the lovable characters.
Since this is a musical genre, the soundtrack is one of the most important things and how they’re performed. Fortunately, the film has a great cast and a great collection of songs, but feels slightly odd in the way the director chose to make the musical sections seem different.
The soundtrack is a selection of popular love songs from the pop music genre that nearly everyone must’ve heard of from “Red Headed Woman” by Bruce Springsteen to “Piece of My Heart” by Erma Franklin. These songs fit really well since the lead mature characters are going to know the songs that they sing throughout and these two elements match well, creating obscure and hilarious musical scenes. This is especially true with Christopher Walken singing “Delilah” by Tom Jones, dancing with a bunch of cops in the street after imagining to kill his cheating sweetheart.
Although these musical scenes are funny and performed well, the biggest problem I had with the film was the fact that the vocal parts within each song were being played while the actors and actresses were singing. This didn’t ruin the film too much by any means, but it would have been better if the cast performed with the music of the soundtrack only. With the appeal of the musical segments not being done in the traditional way, this slight issue does bring an appeal that people may or may not like.
All of the cast members have put in a lot of effort in their performances and what makes them interesting to see is the fact that they don’t play the type of characters they usually play.
All of the cast members were great under the direction by John Turturro, who has brought all of the cast members the great and different opportunities that have made their characters all very dark, yet lovable. His choice of cast members has given some of the then unknown actors and actresses like Mandy Moore popularity since the release of the film.
With cast members given a bad name for being terrible directors by numerous critics, Turturro has proven those same people wrong since he has made a dark musical comedy that changes some of the traditional musical genre elements. This is definitely worth watching if you want to see an unusually twisted and funny film.