Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Four Last Songs|
Actor: Stanley Tucci
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
A COMIC DRAMA SET ON A MEDITERRANEAN ISLAND, WHERE A MOTLEY COLLECTION OF CHARACTERS IS SEEKING MUSICAL REDEMPTION.
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A Bittersweet, Gentle Comedy and Love Story
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"FOUR LAST SONGS is one of those little films that quietly turns a little comedy about seemingly incongruous situations into a finely spun series of love stories: father and daughter, man and woman, disparate brothers, lonely widows, and a village that loves its heritage. Writer/Director Francesca Joseph understands her craft and blends a well-paced story with a fine cast. The result is a heartwarming evening of entertainment.
On a small Mediterranean island (Mallorca/Balearic Islands) lives an odd group of expatriates. Larry (Stanley Tucci) is pianist from classical training who makes his living playing piano bar while he pines for the purity of classical music such as that of a deceased composer who lived on the island once wrote. His long term girlfriend Miranda (Jessica Stevenson) practices yoga and supports Larry's dreams. Sebastian (Hugh Bonneville) is a well to do, would be impresario who lives with his perpetually drunk and miscreant brother Dickie (Rhys Ifans). Larry develops a plan to have a concert of the deceased composer's music there on the island but has to contend with the composer's widow Veronica (Marisa Paredes) as well as the composer's beautiful 'muse' Helena (Emmanuelle Seigner): the two women are bitter enemies. Larry obtains Veronica's permission to stage the concert of her husband's music, has the composer's grand piano brought in by helicopter, and hires the infamous pianist Narcisco Ortega (Virgile Bramly) to perform. And while Sebastian vies for the rights to have the concert take place, the obstacles encountered are beyond his intrusion. All goes well until the surprise arrival of Larry's 'unknown daughter' from an old weekend affair arrives: Frankie (Jena Malone) has been tracking down her birth father for apparent and occult reasons. Narcisco arrives with entourage, seduces Frankie, and in an act of fatherly protection Larry injures the pianist's hands and the whole project falls apart. In a final ploy to make the concert work Helena gives Larry the composer's final songs - dedicated with love to his wife Veronica - and Larry agrees to perform the music in the small concert of his dreams, and the concert serves as a moment of healing between each of the paired and unpaired characters.
Not only are the characters well played by this very fine cast, but also the scenery of the island is exotic and romantic as captured by cinematographer Javier Salmones. The original music score by Dan Jones includes a truly lovely 'last song' and is enhanced by the fact that excerpts from Richard Strauss' "Four Last Songs" as sung by Sylvia Sass are an integral part of the soundtrack. This is a tender little story with equal amounts of sensitive humor and warmth, a film that deserves a much wider audience. Grady Harp, July 07
A Real Little Gem
Miniboy | Cork, Irland | 08/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a real, little gem and has become one of my favourites! It is therefore quite disappointing that BBC Films as the producer hasn't been released it in Europe so far.
The story revolves around Larry (Stanley Tucci), a mediocre and chronically unsatisfied musician who has settled in the ex-pat community of a remote island village in the Mediterranean. Despite being tiny, the village is also famous for having been the home of a celebrated European composer. Although Larry initially hoped to absorb some of the dead man's glory, his modest talents have instead confined him to playing the piano in a local bar.
In a last effort to make his mark, Larry convinces the composer's widow (Marisa Paredes) to allow him staging a gala concert as tribute to the composer. However, his plans are increasingly put into jeopardy by the embittered widow's jealousy towards her husband's muse (Emmanuelle Seigner), who possesses the partiture of the master's unpublished last work, by his own neurotically jealous partner (Jessica Stevenson), by Sebastian (Hugh Bonneville), a social-climbing Englishman, and his anarchistic younger brother Dickie (Rhys Ifans) as well as by the hired arrogant star pianist's (Karl Johnson) attitudes and behaviour.
But all those troubles are eclipsed by the unexpected arrival of Larry's own stubborn and streetwise daughter Frankie (Jena Malone), who - as the unwanted result of a one-night stand - has been tracking him down for most of her life and won't take any rejection for an answer anymore. Thus, Larry must learn for the first time in his life to balance all the harmonies and deliver his own masterpiece.
The film lives from a strong ensemble cast performance, of which in particular Stanley Tucci, Rhys Ifans and Jena Malone stand out. Those who enjoyed movies like "Little Miss Sunshine", "The Devils wears Prada", "The Edukators", "The Miracle of Bern", "Life as a House" or "Big Fish" will love this movie as well. Highly recommended!!!"
Pretty but not very substantive
Blue | Washington, DC United States | 08/22/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not sure what expectations I had for this film when I bought it. I know that the cast, previewed subject matter and film location sounded good. Somehow though, it didn't live up to much of its promise for me. While the cast was filled with some solid professionals, the storyline and the direction--the direction in particular--just didn't cut it. The interaction between characters wasn't credible, probably because of the stilted dialogue. The location of the film - Menorca, I think - was truly beautiful and the best part of the production. Otherwise, I thought this was something that you might expect to see on cable TV's Lifetime channel. Disappointing."
Lovely setting, Great Idea, But a Bit Weak Nonetheless
JPDillon | USA | 12/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Disclaimer: I know most of the people on whom the characters are (loosely) based, and the area of the production (the village of Deia on the island of Mallorca), and the house in which it's set. I even happened to meet the director as they were getting ready to shoot the film, so I should have a natural tendency to praise this piece.
On the flip side, I've been a writer and, as a young pup, a movie theater manager, so I see a lot of film and video, which perhaps makes me a bit more, um, particular about film making.
The good stuff: The scenery is glorious, with or without the "homesick factor." The opening shot of the little church atop the mountain, with the several-hundred-year-old terraces of olives and fruit below, makes you want to call Iberia and book the next flight to Spain. The restaurant at the Cala, where you first see Miranda and Larry playing music together, is beautiful (great food, by the way) but looks more glamorous than in real life.
The idea of bringing unheard classical music out of the past into modern ears is a good premise, with plenty of subplots going on to keep things interesting, while the idea of my sister popping up in the middle of all these other complications just adds another layer to the stack of amusing plot devices.
On the flip side: I felt that the story didn't flow quite as well as I'd expected, perhaps because the dialog didn't strike me as quite sharp enough. It seems like the actors weren't quite sure where to go or what to say at times, so some of the story got a little lost.
Nonetheless, I'd give it good marks for a light comedy, set in an idyllic location, with interesting characters, and a different premise from the usual "two strangers meet and fall in love, with laughs for all" that appears to mark the genre these days.
I'd rate it 3.5 stars, so I rounded up."