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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(spoilers) Just saw a screening of this at the Egyptian in Hollywood, with Cage & Franco & Suvari appearing afterward for a Q&A session. Basically you've got a story of a hustler (Franco) who was groomed for the biz by his mother. He's trying to escape the life but his mom and his new girlfriend (Suvari) are trying to keep him in it. The film was strangely truncated- big parts of how the Suvari and Franco characters formed their relationship doesn't show up on screen, so the 'love' story that forms the spine of the story doesn't really have any resonance for the audience. I think Cage let his actors have a little too much reign in their choices, but it may be the fault of the script for not fleshing out the relationships. Some of the scenes were very compelling and even funny, especially one where Sonny dresses up as a policeman and does a trick for a woman who wants to do some roleplaying. All in all though, we're just not as engaged as the filmmakers want us to be in the central relationships of the film. Peripheral relationships are almost more fully realized than central ones throughout the film. Harry Dean Stanton especially is wonderful.
I just recently saw this movie on either HBO or Cinemax, and let me tell you, for me it was like a train wreck, once you start watching, you cant stop watching. So, it was after 1:00am when I flipped it on, thinking I had found something to help me go to sleep, but once I started listening to it and getting the movie plot down for what it really was, I was shocked, then very interested in what would come of the characters. When Sonny went crazy in Texas when he was with that blonde girl, that is when I really just went 'what the hell kind of movie is this?' That didn't stop me from watching however, just kept me on the edge as to what he was going to do from then on. Mena Suvari I thought was great, because this wasn't the typical nice little Hollywood roll for her to do, it was different and edgy, and she was wonderful in it. The ending threw me off, but still made you think and kinda make up your own conclusion as to what happened with them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This isn't a bad looking film and the performances are all fairly
effective but once the first 30 or so minutes have passed you've pretty
much seen what this has to offer. Story takes place in New Orleans in
1981 where Sonny Phillips (James Franco) has just been discharged from
the Army with the hopes of finding a job someplace but his mother wants
him to come back to what she taught him. Jewel (Brenda Blethyn) is an
ex-prostitute who taught her son the same thing and he was very popular
for the wealthy older ladies in the area. Jewel has a young girl named
Carol (Mena Suvari) working for her and even though she has a number of
tricks every day she still talks about getting out of the business and
living a normal life. Also living with Jewel but just as a renter is
long time friend Henry (Harry Dean Stanton) who has lent a helping hand
for the both of them.
Sonny doesn't want to go back to being a prostitute but when he is unable to get a job he seems to have no other resources in life and at times gets very angry after finishing with a customer. He becomes very jaded and remorseful and when Carol suggests that they go off together and start a new life he can't even bring himself to admit that it's possible for such a thing to happen.
This film marks the directorial debut of actor Nicolas Cage and while he does show that he can tell a story at a good pace the main flaw comes from the script itself. This story is very reminiscent of the ambiguous neo-realism films from Italy and France of the 50's and 60's in which the script just allows us to watch Sonny slowly become angry and bitter and to allow prostitution to inevitably become his unfortunate life. Critics point out that the film doesn't offer any insight to Sonny and instead we see the usual clichés and one can't deny that those flaws are evident but there are some good things that should be noticed in Cage's direction. One is the solid performances he gets by all of his actors and I think Blethyn's Southern accent isn't to bad but I think Suvari gives arguably the most effective performance in the film. There is some of the usual prostitute with a heart of gold in the script but when she begs for Sonny to say something positive about their future while it's pouring rain it reminded me that she is indeed one of the more talented young actresses out there. Cage also gives the film a more sordid look at what was going on around Bourbon St. during the early 80's and I found the mood to be pretty effective. But the script doesn't give you anything fresh to view and for the most part the characters just seem to be going through the motions of the films actions. This isn't a bad film and Cage seems to have some talent as a director but this is still a script that fails to be revealing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A Nicolas Cage movie, directed and produced, SONNY is stark, raw and straight-to-the-point. Fresh from his release from the Army, Sonny heads home to New Orleans with the intent of telling his mother Jewel(Brenda Blethyn)that he has no plans of returning to his former lifestyle. You see, Sonny's previous job was pleasing the ladies...a popular gigolo working for his mother, who taught him everything he knows. The job that his Army buddy(Scott Caan)falls through leaving Sonny to return to doing what he does well. Working for Jewel is a pretty young girl named Carol(Mena Suvari)that deep inside wants to leave the business and live like the "normal" people that marry and have a home with children. She tries to convince Sonny to join her and runaway from the seedy life in the Big Easy's underbelly. Some real strong images of sexual activity; boring...this movie is not. Also starring are: Harry Dean Stanton, Brenda Vaccaro, Seymour Cassel, Josie Davis and a Nic Cage cameo as Acid Yellow, a gay pimp. Some heavy tunes from Rush, Chicago, Devo and David Bowie.
Sonny is one of those small great films that makes me recover my faith on the seventh art.Nicholas Cage give us a film full of pain, rage, passion, love and with a little option to the hope.a portrait of the suffering that produces a clear lack of hope.The leading role lies on the great James Franco(the best actor of his generation) he plays to the haunted and dreamer Sonny.He is supported by great actors as Harry Dean Stanton,Mena Suvari, Seymour Cassel, Brenda Blethyn and Scott Cann( son of the legendary James Cann).This film gives a lot for very little and that is the best thing that can happen to a movie lover. Since the first time I saw the trailer I knew I was going to love the film and it didn't disappoint me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watched this to see my hometown on film and as an emerging Franco fan.
I was expecting to hate it based on reviews and just from being a New
Orleanian. But I loved it. I guess whether you like a film or not
really boils down to taste.
The French quarter and City Park (or was it Audubon?) looked realistic and yet surreally beautiful. I believe Cage still has a home in the Garden District not far from where I used to live so I think he must still love the city. One work lunch as I stood at a corner downtown waiting to cross a busy intersection I saw him being chauffeured past in a non-descript car, window down, arm hanging out (maybe towards a movie shoot?) It was in front of the building I used to work in...the pink highrise you see in the background behind Sonny in the opening shot...I think it fall 1989 or early 1990 so it must have been "Wild at Heart" they were filming. In fact our eyes locked for a while and he turned his head to keep the stare well across the intersection and down the street, which kind of unsettled me. I recognized him immediately though I hadn't heard anything about the movie.
Back to what was realistic...the accents in this film were not...but I was surprised not to have that bother me in the least as it did in the movie The Big Easy with Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin. I think that is because this movie was more of an art film and you expected a degree of fantasy in it...sort of like you'd find in Raising Arizona or the Big Lebowski. Someone else mentioned Coen brothers and I agree; there was a bit of that in this film. Some didn't like this interplay of drama and quirkiness; I do. It's a Nicholas Cage (and to a different degree, James Franco) trademark.
Another surprise: Brenda Vaccaro as Meg. Though her role is brief, her chops as an actress really stood out. Wow! I've never noticed her before; will definitely check her other movies out.
All of the acting in the film was great excepting perhaps a local or two. I could immediately spot the locals from their accents and demeanors and there were only a few, one of them very good. Harry Dean Stanton great, as usual. Brenda Blethyn was great in this stylized Blanche DuBois-type role, though her attempt at New Orleans old-timer pronunciations like "goyl" for "girl" were awful as was her southern accent. But for me that didn't take away from her wonderful acting a bit.
First time seeing Mena Suvari...I don't know how she usually acts but thought she nailed her role as "pretty baby". I loved her and wanted to hug her.
Franco...what can I say? My avocation of trying to figure out what and how this guy ticks is getting to be ridiculous. To date (2010) Francophilia seems to be a meme that is just ready to explode in America...possibly worldwide. This guy clearly touches something in people everywhere. I *so* recognized that person who emerged in his scene in the Texas bathroom. Really. I have never seen anyone tap into that particular space and so completely nail it in film before, but I recognized it very well.
Cage allowed Sonny to care for his clients and want to please them, though he clearly didn't enjoy every aspect of his work. Watch him with Meg; then police lady; then mansion lady -- he clearly wants to please, and he does.
Pleasantly surprised, and somewhat amazed with what I saw in this film. But that's just me...
"I was fortunate enough to watch it on an import Region-1 DVD, and was struck by the non-judgmental approach and sensitivity of the director & cast dealing with such a rough story line."------I can explain this; I knew the writer of this film many years ago. This is essentially his own life story. Except I believe this movie takes place in New Orleans; in real life it was Galveston, Texas. I've read a number of his unproduced scripts and many of them deal with this same theme. God knows what would have happened to him if he hadn't become a writer. Interesting side bit about John Carlen. He was mentored by the late Edward Bunker, who was also a jailhouse writer but was perhaps best known for playing "Mr. Blue" in Reservoir Dogs. I guess Mr. Bunker was kind of a violent guy, because the two of them fell out and Carlen was so worried that Bunker was coming after him that he went into hiding.
I rented this on DVD and was pretty happy with the first half of the film but then lost interest and stopped caring about the main character. The acting in this film was fantastic from almost everyone, but the story just did not provide the resolution that I was hoping for. Even though the final scene implies what Sonny's decision is, I was looking for something more dramatic after cheering Sonny on through the entire movie. Even though she only had a small part, hats off to Josie Davis for a fantastic performance. She is obviously a very talented actor and shines above everyone else in this film.
I had the wonderful opportunity to see the debut of Sonny at the Virginia
Film Festival on 26 October 2002. This is a gritty and raw portrayal of a
young man's attempts to change his fate. Mr. Cage has made a daring film
about the difficult life of a male hustler.
This is a film that spares nothing and finds us rooting for each character's redemption. This is not to be missed.
This movie is beautiful.
I didn't expect much of it (having seen Ethan Hawke's "Chelsea Walls" a
months earlier), but from the moment I heard the first NOTE of music (on
black screen), I was captivated. I remember thinking, "don't feel the
to fill the screen yet. Just let the music play for a bit. No image
no image yet." And it was the most gratifying thing ever too see that
DID let the haunting music play with only a black screen for just long
enough. That was a rare something that really impressed me from the
After that, I was captivated by the beautiful shots, the unusual storyline, and the acting, man! James Franco is a star, and incredibly attractive (of course, but still. I mean he IS "Adonis," as his mother called him). This just made the movie completely real for me. I loved his accent and his strained, bare, smile that was always filmed at an intriguing angle. Weird, but very very good. Harry Dean Stanton was like someone from another place and time entirely...I fell in love with him. He was entirely real. And Brenda Blethyn...what an actress! I watched the entire movie without recognizing her from "Lovely and Amazing"! Her voice was really impressive. Those three would make any movie worth watching. And Mena Suvari was right, I suppose, for the role...young, whiny, and a bit fickle. The music was perfect, too. That's pretty rare in movies. But Cage didn't hesitate to use whatever music was right for the moment or the scene, regardless of previous stigmas. And the ending was amazing. As the credits rolled, many of the people around me were grumbling a bit. Well, like I said, I didn't EXPECT to like this movie, but it ended up being one of the two best new movies I've seen all year. I can't wait until it's released so that I can watch it again. And I wouldn't call it "seedy." There's no unnecessary sex. It's just part of the story...(and note that Sonny and Carol are never shown having sex.) Nice work!
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