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Johnny Suede (1991)

5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 2,509 users   Metascore: 53/100
Reviews: 23 user | 9 critic | 14 from Metacritic.com

A struggling young musician and devoted fan of Ricky Nelson wants to be just like his idol and become a rock star.

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Title: Johnny Suede (1991)

Johnny Suede (1991) on IMDb 5.8/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Johnny Suede
Richard Boes ...
Man in Tuxedo
Cheryl Costa ...
Woman in Alley
Michael Luciano ...
Mr. Clepp
Calvin Levels ...
Deke
...
Freak Storm
Ralph Marrero ...
Bartender
Wilfredo Giovanni Clark ...
Slick
...
Darlette
...
Flip Doubt
Ron Vawter ...
Winston
Dennis Parlato ...
Dalton
...
Mrs. Fontaine
Michael Mulheren ...
Fred Business
Wayne Maugans ...
Ned Business
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Storyline

A struggling young musician and devoted fan of Ricky Nelson wants to be just like his idol and become a rock star.

Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Keeping up an image can be a full time job.

Genres:

Comedy | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and elements of sexuality | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

22 April 1992 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Johnny Suede  »

Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Color:

| (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tom DiCillo insisted on casting the relatively unknown Brad Pitt over the objections of the producer, who wanted him to consider Timothy Hutton. Ironically, DiCillo was ultimately dissatisfied with Pitt's portrayal of Johnny as being "slow" or "stupid" instead of just childish. See more »

Connections

References Taxi Driver (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

 
an odd duck of a movie, not laugh out loud but not fully dramatic, in a weird nether-region in the middle
6 September 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Johnny Suede is like underground-filmmaking lite. It comes almost around the end of that era of New York City filmmaking that started many years before with more radical types like Andy Warhol and Jack Smith, and continued on with Jim Jarmusch (whom director Tom DiCillo worked for at one time), Betty Gordon and the guys that made New York Beat Movie. It's something about the beat of the street that DiCillo is interested in, at least in some part. But at the same time his lead figure is played by Brad Pitt, and it's like the slightly dim-witted rockabilly version of Henry from Eraserhead. It's nowhere near as bizarro as that, but DiCillo does try to be sure. He even has his intrepid would-be lady's man walking around a downtown NYC that looks as run-down as could be at the time, right before the city got a little more gentrified. It's a place with oddball rock n' rollers and street bums, midgets and painters, and oddball types of other varieties.

If it isn't entirely great it's because the film inhabits a strange region where it's not entirely underground, and could never be something mainstream despite its young star (who had just finished being female eye-candy in Thelma & Louise). Pitt is very good in the role though, taking up a character who isn't quite as stupid as he looks, but not intelligent enough to live in the "real" world. He's more into being a kind of hunky rockabilly guy, Ricky Nelson his idol, his huge pompadour the envy of anyone except for Nick Cave's character Freak Storm, also with an impressive head of hair. Like a real 'indie' movie there isn't too much of a plot: Suede gets a pair of shoes that kind of define him, tries to make a band that doesn't work out, paints to make ends meet, falls in love with one girl who dumps him for another and dates another (Catherine Keener) whom loves him dearly but who he treats badly.

What we have then is a movie without much of a story, and without much of a character that is iconic in ways that these indie films need to be. So why praise it so? Because of DiCillo's vision, and because Pitt does give the character what he needs as far as being real and raw enough to be taken seriously. He's a lunkhead, but not a bad person, kind of innocent and at his most vulnerable like a little puppy who needs help finding a woman's privates. It's a heady mix of grungy romance and some delirious dreams, some more touching than others. It could even be considered like a more "conventional" cousin to Eraserhead, where dreams and reality sometimes are indistinguishable to its protagonist, and whose direction in love and life is uncertain. If it's a little too light in the loafers to be fully embraced it may be expected as a first feature.

It's a fine jumping-off pad artistically for both its director (later to do the great Living in Oblivion) and of course its star, not to mention a very beautiful Catherine Keener and a perfectly weird Nick Cave.


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