Bennie travels to Buenos Aires to find his long-missing older brother, a once-promising writer who is now a remnant of his former self. Bennie's discovery of his brother's near-finished play might hold the answer to understanding their shared past and renewing their bond.
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Francis Ford Coppola
James Earl Jones
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The week of his 18th birthday, Bennie, who's a waiter on a cruise ship, has a layover in Buenos Aires. He seeks out his older brother, Tetro, whom he hasn't seen in years. Tetro, who lives with Miranda, is a burned-out case; he's hot and cold toward his brother, introducing him as a "friend," refusing to talk about their family, telling Bennie not to tell Miranda who their father is. Thoughts of their father cast a shadow over both brothers. Who is he, and what past has Tetro left behind? Bennie finds pages of Tetro's unfinished novel, and he pushes both to know his own history and to become a part of his brother's life again. What can come of Bennie's pushing? Written by
The entire film was edited using Final Cut Pro on Apple Mac computers. See more »
Early in the movie Tetro stumbles into the kitchen with a broken leg and knocks over some furniture while lighting a cigarette using a burner on the stove. he ignites the burner by just turning the knob on the stove. A few minutes later Miranda must use a match to light a burner on the same stove-top. See more »
[referring to Tetro's play]
So what was it about?
You're writing the story of our father...
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I can see a lot of connection between Copolla's 1983 Rumble Fish and this 2009 Tetro. Firstly there's that same inky black monochrome that's as dark as night and with the occasional splash of colour. Then, there's the brotherly relationship, here between Vincent Gallo and Alden Ehrenreich.
It's a while since I last watched Rumble Fish but the brothers there were Mickey Rourke (a rare good film for him at that time) and Matt Dillon. It's about street gangs and pool halls and how an older brother can be very impressionistic on a younger sibling. I'll say no more, except it's a blinder of a film and better than this.
I would have to say that the monochrome cinematography here, though, that everybody drools over is just too dark and contrasty, for this subject and film. I'm a photographer, so hopefully know and whilst Rumble Fish looked superb, that was full of geometric angles and angular paradoxes. Here, the screen is often plunged into almost darkness much of the time.
There is a balletic beauty to much of it though and we veer away from Rumble Fish and on to his works of epic greatness. The Godfathers and Apocalypse Now all share with this, an operatic build up of artistic and emotional tension that is mesmerising. Tetro has this toward the end at the Festival and we start anticipating something big and great. Do we get it? You'll have to see it yourself...
Others have touched on the actual storyline and I'm going to leave that to them. That said, the cast are all good but oddly, Vincent Gallo, as Tetro seems to short-change us. Not performance wise but in that we just don't seem to get to know him, which is part of the whole story, of course. Clamming up into a shell is nature's way of protecting us, emotionally, which is what Tetro did - and still does.
One major plus to this, very bog-standard DVD, was the sound quality - I 'felt' the sound as much as heard it. It prickled my eardrums with a tactile clarity, certainly Hi-fi standard, plus. OK, it was through separate amp and speakers but is as all my TV watching is.
Is Tetro a film for you? That's a difficult one. Art-house cinema lovers probably will and those who like a drama that is quite complex also but those who want action and something akin to Apocalypse Now, no. It is long, visually rich and dark (like plain chocolate) and accordingly, not for everybody but for those who do, it holds many strengths.
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