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New Orleans, 1981. Sonny Phillips, just discharged from the Army, returns home where the only life he's known is as a gigolo working for his mother. He wants to leave that behind, but the job his Army buddy promised doesn't materialize, and he can't escape his past. Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In 2010, New York Magazine reported that while doing research for his role in Sonny (2002), 'James Franco' visited male strip clubs in New Orleans and also followed a male prostitute around, even into a hotel room while the prostitute did his job. See more »
You didn't even give the boy a chance.
Don't worry about it. He's doin' what he's best at.
Yeah, that's right. Drivin' himself off a cliff, just like you taught him, right?
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I guess it's hard to address serious issues when you're dealing with a plot about a flamboyant southern belle who raises her son to be a natural-born-whore, because this movie is considered to be a failure even though it really isn't. It's neither the ready-made slice-of-life that Sundance specializes in, nor is it an innovative film like "Pi," so casual independent fans have little reason to like this (they probably dislike Paul Morrissey, too). So there's already a few misconceptions about the film, but add to that that it's an actor's film: what else are we supposed to expect from Nicolas Cage? The movie is a mix of piano music and prostitution, and it's just like Cage's acting -- hyper-real and over-the-top, classy and trashy at once.
The movie is partially a series of differing acting styles -- Blethyn's comic exaggeration, Franco's sleepy mysteriousness, Stanton's quiet control, Cage's funhouse tricks. But I think Cage deserves a certain amount of credit -- he doesn't scuzzify the material or romanticize it; he creates some interesting scenes (and handles most of the more potentially offensive ones with as close to grace as possible); he indulges all of his actors. And there is some real pain in the story, about not being able to switch jobs, and how vagabonds have nothing to show for their life. There are times when this goes where few films do in terms of honesty, yet the script does have increasing problems as it goes along. A scene like the one where Cage makes his appearance, seen through Sonny's drunken haze, works only because of the oddness of it; it feels stolen from other films because it's supposed to be there for the type of movie this is. But the film is at its best when it resists any "type." 8/10
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