Emmy AwardŽ-winner James Gandolfini (All The King's Men, TV's The Sopranos), OscarŽ-winner Susan Sarandon (Shall We Dance, Stepmom), OscarŽ-nominated Kate Winslet (Titanic, Finding Neverland), Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Reservo... more »ir Dogs), Mandy Moore (Chasing Liberty, The Princess Diaries), Emmy AwardŽ-winner Bobby Cannavale (Snakes on a Plane, The Bone Collector), Golden Globe AwardŽ-winner Mary-Louise Parker (Red Dragon, Fried Green Tomatoes), Aida Turturro (Deep Blue Sea, Sleepers), Emmy AwardŽ-winner Eddie Izzard (My Super-Ex Girlfriend, Ocean's Twelve) and OscarŽ-winner Christopher Walken (Click, The Wedding Crashers) lead an all-star cast in this down-and-dirty modern day musical set which tells the story of one man's journey into infidelity and redemption. Nick (Gandolfini) is an ironworker who builds and repairs bridges. He's married to Kitty (Sarandon), a dressmaker, a strong and gentle woman with whom he has three daughters and must struggle to cope with her husband's betrayal. He is carrying on a torrid affair with a flame haired seductress named Tula (Winslet). It is only through a tragic twist of fate that Nick finally understands the extent of the pain he has inflicted on his family. With time running out he discovers the essential value of Kitty's love and respect. In an imaginative, humorous, and touching way, Romance & Cigarettes explores the cost and value of a relationship through life and death. When the characters can no longer express themselves with language, they break into song, lip-synching the tunes lodged in their subconscious. It is their way to escape the harsh reality of their world - to dream, to remember, and to connect to another human being.« less
Gary J. (gjones) from TROUTDALE, OR Reviewed on 1/14/2012...
What a cool movie! Definitely not for everyone, but I loved it. The musical portion of it, where the actors all of a sudden burst into song-and-dance numbers were priceless, and I would recommend it just for Christopher Walken's character--classic Walken!! Totally out-of-there, off-the-wall, and perfectly under-played by a master of his craft. The guy's a genius. Gandolfini was excellent as the husband who strays from his wife, Susan Sarandon, and her character was excellent as well. The emotions she displayed, from angry to distraught to wistful were right on. And Kate Winslet stole the show with her profane-spewing Cockney homewrecker. Wow! She was so hot, but her character was anything but one-dimensional. And then we had Steve Buscemi as Gandolfini's chum from work. He never pushed his character too far, never tried to steal a scene, just played his character, a matter-of-fact sexual know-it-all, perfectly with dead-pan timing. This is an indie home-run, nice simple story, great characters, off-the-wall production, super cast. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Frank E. (realartist) from HENDERSONVLLE, NC Reviewed on 10/18/2009...
Go get some milk and cookies. This will take a while. If the review is this long, the movie that thought provoking, let this be a clue that it is worth sitting through at least once. I say that because I first came across it channel surfing; watched it a while, and moved on in a mild state of disgust. It will have that effect on you. But then...so does "Cops" on Saturday night, no? The sleazy underbelly of society populated by people who don't seem to have ever had a noble thought or action in their abysmal excuse for a life. This movie is a little more literary than "Cops". First of all, it is by executive producers Joel and Ethan Coen-so we know it must have some literary merit-for these two are ALL about the great American novel...which is to mirror real society, so that 500 years from now, historians will see 'what went wrong' with the "former United states of America". Charles Dickens does this for example. There was so much social injustice and squalor in London, we have a 'realistic' look at society then...but then his novels did have some redeeming effect by encouraging reforms.
Okay...to the movie. This was written and directed by one of the actors in the Coen Bros stable...and also with more of their actors cast in the story. so it must be good, right? Keep telling yourself this, for you will want to 'bail' before its done. The reason being, it involves ordinary, lower class, foul mouth, foul behaving working stiffs in a run down old neighborhood of new York..."Brooklyn?" Adding to the overall ugliness...little attempt to pretty this story up with good cinematography...adequate, but certainly not superlative in any way. There is, however a significant amount of internal fantasy played out from within the minds of the characters in the form of a very odd kind of "musical"...choreographed dancing on the part of other low class working stiffs, with only barely tolerable music...much of it from the early 60's-except for the daughters of the male star who have this grunge/hip hop ( awful ) band...further signifying the overall moral malaise/decline of this shabby subculture neighborhood. And oh...did I mention sex? Hoo boy. First of all, it chronicles a typical sad marriage where intimacy has long ago fallen by the wayside between the main couple..wife played by the snarling Susan Sarandon...who does a chilling portrayal of the emasculating, sexually dead spouse. Her husband, played by James Gandolfini, seems to be having endless fantasies about an imagined younger lover. As it turns out, it isn't imagined at all. He's just an ignorant dufus who happened to have found himself drawn into an adulterous affair...with extremely sultry, killer sex object, who offers everything every man ever dreamed about sexually, played by Kate Winslet. It isn't hard to imagine falling into a delicious tempting trap like that.
These are the dynamics that drive the movie, and all the repercussions that result.
I cannot reveal too many of the results. But I do draw attention to one particularly inventive, and beautiful scene-perhaps the only truly artistic film making in the movie...Nick throws his lover into the lake ( in his mind ), and there she languishes 'singing' underwater....hair floating beautifully in the shimmering underwater light, her red hair glistening, her most kissable mouth forming the words of the sad refrain...without any real bubbles emerging. Quite inventive. One of those images that remain with you. Makes the movie worth while watching just for that. But there is another scene worth mentioning. Nick is in the hospital, when his mother drops in to visit. Boy. You thought "kitten" the wronged wife, Susan Sarandon was a bitch..you aint seen nothing. "I'll show you emasculating bitch"...kind of mother.Phew. You'll laugh outloud at her horribleness. Makes us thankful for our own mother, may she rest in peace.
Yes, it is uncomfortable to watch. There are a couple of scenes at the local Catholic church. Thankfully, the church is not portrayed as utterly useless and corrupt, like so many Hollywood drivel movies...it is a place where these poor folks can find a little respite and comfort...and some interesting music there also. But see, the Bible is also uncomfortable to read...it is , after all, the story of the rise and fall of the Hebrew nation. This movie must then also take its place in the pantheon of movies which give us all a clear, though disturbing picture of our own rise...and gradual, ever so gradual decline into total annihilation one day. Is this, then writer/director John Turturro's thrust, gist,motif,and artistic signature?
2 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 02/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard to describe `Romance and Cigarettes' without sounding weird or schmaltzy, but it's a rock solid romantic comedy that's driven by its offbeat dialogue and characters. Produced by the Coen Brothers, but directed and written by veteran actor John Turturro, the film still feels like a Coen Brothers' venture if they made musical comedies, which, partly, they do.
To give you a flavor of the movie, it starts off with Constance Murder (Mary-Louise Parker) walking up to her unfaithful father, Nick (James Gandolfini, 'The Sopranos') who's asleep on the couch in their modest NY suburban home, snoring away like a slow moving saw. Her arms are akimbo and her face sports disapproval, yet she seems to show compassion as the mounting evidence comes in for yet another mistress and another affair, which is written all over her face. She walks up to him and puts her lit cigarette between his toes. She walks out of the room, and after a pregnant pause, we hear him yell out in pain.
His daughters are on mom, (Susan Sarandon) Katie Murder's side, so she's really wronged in a one-sided way. She wears her anguish on her sleeve and in song (as she reconnects with her local Catholic church choir.) One of the best scenes is when they wiggle and grind through a steamy rendition of "Take Another Piece of My Heart". (You know, the one Janis Joplin made so famous). One of her daughters has all the looks she may have lost, is in a rock band, and is steady with her dancer boyfriend (Duck-tail flamboyant Bobby Cannavale) who also co-fronts the band.
On his way to work, Nick sings along with the soundtrack, so his voice absurdly blends in Karaoke style with Engelbert Humperdinck's "A Man Without Love" in a lavishly choreographed neighborhood scene. The juxtaposition of fantasy with mundane reality must be a Hollywood trend, for I kept thinking of `Across the Universe' here or `Enchanted' and `Hairspray'. Yet, it would be unfair for me to keep those connections too strong here, for I felt like I was watching something uniquely sublime and daffy.
There isn't really much of plot, per se, except for the ramifications of his British adulterous interest (Kate Winslet), but the character study is enough to keep the pages turning. Nick is able to confide with fellow hardhat Angelo (Steve Buscemi) whose lecherous confessions on the job are both grim and practical, and Katie relies on her quirky cousin (Christopher Walken) to boost her spirits and keep her sense of purpose in life.
Much like the aforementioned films, `Romance and Cigarettes' uses musical comedy to rise about the dingy skylines and heart rending realities with some fun fantasies that both escape one's lot in life and process the wounds. I'd say after all is said and done, this is a fun and colorful film that is a real pleasure to watch.
(Happy belated Valentine's Day!)"
Unlike any musical you've ever seen...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 03/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Musicals have become all the rage lately (I feel so weird saying `all the rage') and `Romance & Cigarettes' is yet another in the long line; but there is something different about this `musical', something that makes it stand apart as superior to the rest. John Turturro's `Romance & Cigarettes' is one of the strangest musicals I've ever seen, one that is definitely not for every palate but one that is sure to find it's cult following and devoted fans. It's abrasive, crude and ultimately unforgettable. The tagline for this film's is `A Savage Musical' and while that may sum up the film in part there is really so much heart here that it seems unjust to classify it as `savage'.
`Romance & Cigarettes' follows blue collar worker Nick Murder as he juggles his relationships with the women in his life. His marriage to Kitty is falling apart, mostly due to his relationship with vixen Tula. His daughters Baby, Constance and Rosebud despise him for what he has done to their mother and his girlfriend Tula is challenging him in ways he didn't know he could be challenged. And then there is his mother who will never forgive him for becoming his father. While Nick is sorting out his life Kitty is trying to find herself. She visits the church of which she's all but forsaken. She contemplates handling Tula on her own, for good. She battles her feelings about her husband as well as those about her dead ex-lover.
`Romance & Cigarettes' plays out like a musical meets a black romantic comedy meets a crime noir meets a family drama. The `musical' elements are open song where characters either sing along or lip synch to pop ballads; where musical numbers are performed in the middle of the street complete with choreographed dancing. The minute Gandolfini walks out the front door singing `A Man Without Love' you know you're in for a treat. It's definitely `out there' but it all fits together in such an oddly fulfilling way that you can't help but embrace it.
The performances are stellar, truly stellar. James Gandolfini almost reprises his role of Tony Soprano when you really think about it. Sure, he's not a mobster but his family life (the cheating, the sick form of loyalty to his mate, the sympathetic failure) is pretty similar. He nails it, but that's to be expected. Susan Sarandon also nails her part as the eccentric down trodden mother. Her performance is similar to her role in `Igby Goes Down' (another SOLID piece of work). Mandy Moore, Mary-Louise Parker and Aida Turturro all deliver fine performances as the three daughters, Parker standing out due to her scene stealing antics. Christopher Walken is hilarious as Cousin Bo and Elaine Stritch has a noteworthy cameo as Nick's mother.
Standout here though is none other than Kate Winslet. Her performance as the dirty mouthed Tula is outstanding. The things that come out of her mouth are so horrible yet she says them with such calm and ease you can't help but believe every word. How she made it through her dialog without gagging on her own laughter is beyond me. How she was passed over for an Oscar nomination is also beyond me.
`Romance & Cigarettes' is one of those films that stays with you whether you like it or not. It's imaginative and original and completely ridiculous in a manor that makes you want to be a part of this crazy world somehow. With stellar performances that elevate the screenplay and tender moments that add layers of emotional depth to the chaos on screen, `Romance & Cigarettes' is definitely worth the ride."
A funny, sexy and poignant "musical."
cone gobbler | Pacific Northwest | 03/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dancing fireman (Gandolfini and Buscemi) trying to extinguish a red hot siren (Winslet) and all to the music of Buena Vista Social Club's "El cuarto de tula." Oh my! This is a very funny, smart, nasty, profane, poignant and perfect movie for laughing out loud. Don't let the naysayers keep you from watching this one, and get your popcorn ready. Loved it!"
A musical without peer
drollere | Sebastopol, CA United States | 07/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"my wife and i saw "romance & cigarettes" at the san francisco film festival a few years ago and it was love at almost first sight. i think the bizarre combination of genres and styles -- think "kitchen sink" realism meets baz luhrmann, or "divorce italian style" collides with "music man" -- put us on our guard, but the manic and enthusiastic performances quickly won us over. the whole cast -- including sarandon, gandolfini, parker, walken -- gels extremely well. and these guys are clearly not cashing a paycheck, everyone gives it their all, though the uninhibited performance by kate winslett especially is a pleasure to recall. there are a lot of ways to like a film (it's well made, it tells a good story, it stirs the emotions, it has great sets and special effects, etc.) but i like this one because it is full of humanity and life. messy, loud, colorful, crazy, impetuous, zestful and heartfelt, the dancing firemen and mermaid lover make this a classic in a category all its own. (turturro explained that he was actually working on the script for this film while he played the hollywood writer typing at his desk in "barton fink".)"