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Reviews & Ratings for
Love Ranch More at IMDbPro »

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27 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

A Movie That Could Have Been 9 or 10 Rating

Author: gabe-neo from United States
14 November 2010

I guess I cannot agree with the ratings here on IMDb every time.

For example I just saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World rated 8.0 then I seen this movie, Love Ranch only 5.3 -- and while the general public still seems to be in love with the youthful glee based in symbolic fantastic fake X-box gaming TRONlike facade of Scott Pilgrim, they seem to rank an incredible life scenario reality based movie, Love Ranch which is based on a couple in their sixties based on a true story, as it were borderline doggy do. Once again, I guess most movie goers would rather not handle the truth.

I must admit, when I was watching Love Ranch, I was reminded of the movie Papillon, in which they tried to fit a two week read into a two hour movie. I thought I was watching the same kind of movie making from a book being made into 2 hour script reducing it to bits and pieces of condensed scenes. But I guess it was merely a rushed screenplay and not a condensed book when I read about it on IMDb. I suppose part of the problem could have been the spontaneous direction in the seemingly rushed storyline.

Other than that I would give this movie with better editing and direction of script a 9 or 10 rating because the intense reality and grip of the characters like between Helen and the boxer. This was incredibly well done... may sometimes been kind of unbelievable, but in the end their impeccable acting crafts both pulled together a gripping story.

I think without a doubt it could and should have been handled better through production, but the movie itself is infinitely more meaningful than a teeny love triangular crap as in the movie I spoke of earlier.

All in all a great movie that needed to be nurtured a lot more to be made into a fantastic movie.


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24 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Excellent movie: fine acting, great story, and massive pathos

Author: palmmgt
7 January 2011

Over the years, I haven't agreed with a lot of the reviews on this site, and this is the case with this movie. I just never bothered to sign up to contribute until now, after just watching this movie.

The film starts out drab, with unsympathetic characters on dead end story arches, which is exactly how it fools the viewer. By the middle of the movie, you realize your notions about them and their journeys were wrong, and in the end, you know there's a reason the movie is loaded with high caliber talent.

And considering it's based on real events, it's all the more interesting and compelling.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Engaging Story, Well-acted, High-concept Production Values

Author: stoughs from United States
12 November 2010

The film has two sags: One very early on in Act I and another late in Act II. In observing a small private audience that was viewing this film, they were all very much engaged in the drama and the action throughout, but they were nearly lost during the two sags. If it were not for those, the film might have attracted a larger audience.

This is not the story of the Mustang Ranch, per se, but rather the story an ambiguous love triangle. (I am thoroughly aware of the Mustang Ranch story, and know Joe Conforte's attorney and best friend, Virgil Bucchanieri, quite well). For example, the film does not use the gimmick of trying to exaggerate the characters that inhabit the brothel, and resists the temptation of trying to replicate the exotica of the Star Wars bar scene.

The real test for a film with this class of story arc is the degree to which we care about the characters mid-way through Act II. Do we care what happens to them in Act III? I and the other audience members all agreed that we did and we shed the expected tears in a tense moment between the dreamer, played by Joe Pesci, and the determined pragmatist, played by Helen Mirren, in the penultimate scene. None of the central or supporting roles were in any way "cardboard" characters.

The production values were quite high and the number of technical errors were minimal (three errors with production sound that really should have been fixed in post plus a couple of continuity errors). Music was very subtle to the point of vanishing at times. There was no attempt at creating a photographic theme: it was all shot color-balanced at neutral without any exaggerated focus-pulls, odd camera framing or moves (but a lot of crane rentals were involved), Pro-mist filters, or too many magic hour shots. That is, the cinematography did not draw attention away from the drama.

The film resolves unambiguously with a shock ending that is well worth waiting for. My final test of entertainment value is: "Are there any scenes in this film that I will remember and repeat in my mind's eye the next day?" I would say that there are such scenes, and I therefore give this picture a 7 out of 10.

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13 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Snooze through the first half, Wake up for the Second Half

Author: gradyharp from United States
7 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

LOVE STORY is a peculiar movie. It is based on the true story of the notorious Mustang Ranch just outside of Reno, Nevada, a brothel that was world famous run by a couple by the name of Joe and Sally Conforte who had chutzpah and an ongoing run-in with the IRS and the law in bringing in boxer Oscar Buenovena as an addendum to their game of wealth. The facts of the brothel's existence are true as are the characters portrayed in the film, but a considerable amount of artistic license as to dates and chronology of event were taken by writer Mark Jacobson. The result is a strange conglomeration of a story, boring as roadkill during the first half but awakening into a rather tender melodrama in the second half. And it is worth the wait. Taylor Hackford directs his wife Helen Mirren, and as we have come to expect, anytime Mirren is in a film there is at least a modicum of fine acting.

The Confortes become the Bontempos for LOVE RANCH (aka Mustang Ranch of history) and Joe Pesci as Charlie Bontempo is an ex-con with a potty mouth who married Grace (Helen Mirren) 20 some years ago, and together they have built the world's largest brothel - the first legal one in Nevada. Grace at first is cheap and tacky, walking with a cane and constantly reminding Charlie of her importance: her character changes a it when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer by her doctor (Broadway singing star Harve Presnell in a tiny and last role; he died in 2009) . Charlie beds all the women who work at Love Ranch and Grace is aware of it. Grace befriends her 'staff' - Gina Gershon, Ling Bai, Taryn Manning, Scout Taylor-Compton, Elise Neal among others - and Charlie tends to the business of promoting the Ranch as well as taking chances with other projects, such as tempting famous Argentine boxer Armando Bruza (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) to move to the Ranch for training in preparation for a fight with (supposedly) Muhammed Ali. Bruza arrives and insists Grace be his manager and she reluctantly accepts out of a sense of being attracted to Bruza. Her girls, especially Irene (Gina Gershon) encourage Grace to live for the moment and give in to the desire for an affair with Bruza. Grace and Bruza do indeed find each other's soft core and fall in love. Bruza is prepared for a fight, but in the fight he staggers through the first rounds only to win by a late surprise knockout: Grace rushes Bruza to the hospital because of his unstable status and there she discovers Bruza suffered a previous brain injury years ago resulting the placement of a metal plate in his skull. This discovery and the events that it initiates bring the film to a tender but tragic end - on many levels.

The cinematography by Kieran McGuigan is splendid when surveying the beauty of the land around Reno but uncomfortably monochromatic through most of the rest of the film. The musical score by Chris Bacon (who has many fine credits for other films) is almost unbearably bad. Joe Pesci, made up to look very old, is in this viewer's opinion miscast: he rarely gets beyond being a screaming filthy mouthed moron. Helen Mirren transforms Grace from a tawdry Madame to a truly beautiful but tired partner for Charlie, opting to spend her few final days with one who can demonstrate his care for her. Sergio Peris-Mencheta manages to make his blustering character one of compassion and vulnerability.

In all this is a movie that, once over, seems well worth watching as the credits reveal all the facts about the destinies of everyone involved in the story. Get past the first half hour or so and you're in for a fine film.

Grady Harp

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Unfairly overlooked, interesting human story for grown ups!

Author: HillstreetBunz from London, England.
11 November 2013

I sought this movie out on DVD because it's cinema release was negligible, and anything with Helen Mirren will have some merit. I can only imagine it's almost invisible release was due to the inability of the youthful marketeers to easily identify the box in which to place it, romance, thriller, gangster flic? For those of us who don't care about such trite labels, this is an interesting movie, characters with some depth, it's not really about goodies or baddies, or even right or wrong, it's a story, with some romance, some humour, some sex, some drama, great performances from stalwarts and what should have been a launch pad to international stardom for the young Spaniard...fear not Sergio, we will see you again. I liked it a lot and really recommend it to people who enjoy films about other people rather than machines and/or concepts!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Postcards from Reno .............

Author: merklekranz from United States
11 September 2013

The thing that stands out immediately in "Love Ranch" is not the girls, not the 1970s clothes, but the amazing photography. Almost every outdoor scene could be the vista for a postcard. The story itself seems to drag in places, and then suddenly rush to a conclusion, with narration to tidy up the ending. The acting by Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci is terrific as expected, and a small scene with Harve Presnell a pleasant surprise. What is not a surprise is the tale of the Mustang Ranch on which the movie is based. It's tough to overcome the familiarity of a story often aired on cable over the last two decades. - MERK

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Cut version!!!

Author: Benedito Dias Rodrigues from Brazil
3 July 2017

Somehow my disc has a cut version of this movie...just 67 minutes and therefore the judgment was harmed...nevertheless l'll leave here some impressions from the movie that suppose to be a true story,Joe Pesci plays the same character in Goodfellas and Helen Mirren which l placed as one's most sexy women of all time,talking about twenty years before of course... made a fine acting on this movie.... but my short version didn't allow me say nothing more than this!!Looking for the full version ahead!!


First watch: 2017 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 6.5

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The little fun house on the desert

Author: jotix100 from New York
14 August 2012

Something went wrong with this Taylor Hackford film which showed on cable recently. It boasts a good cast and it is a story based on a true story. The right elements should have come together to make this entry worth watching. The culprit seems to lie in the screenplay written by Mark Jacobson, which does not take advantage of the subject he was treating.

The story of Grace and Charley Bontempo, the owners of the brothel in the Nevada desert, lent itself for a lot more than comes out in the story. The owners had apparently a good relationship, although it becomes apparent there was no love left between them as the story begins. Charley had been cheating on Grace with anyone of the prostitutes in the place. Grace, the brain behind the business, finds out about the cancer she had to deal with, something that evidently has an effect on her dealings with their business.

Charley, a first class wheeler-dealer, sees an opportunity when Armando Bruza, an Argentine boxer, he discovers with a potential to go places. Grace did not appreciate that Bruza will move to the Love Motel, as Charley wants. Bruza develops an affection for the older woman, who takes the plunge, falling in love with the boxer, something that will lead into fatal consequences.

The main reason for watching "Love Ranch" is Helen Mirren's performance. She makes a case for Grace, the jaded madam of the house of ill repute. At times she seems not to be comfortable with her character, the way the script asks her to play her. Joe Pesci does his routine of being a wise guy. It is fun to watch him utter those four letter words he spices his vocabulary with. Sergio Peris-Mencheta is Bruza, the boxer who fell for the older woman. Gina Gershon does not have much to do.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

great actors in weak movie

Author: SnoopyStyle
15 July 2016

It's 1976. Married couple Grace (Helen Mirren) and Charlie Bontempo (Joe Pesci) own the Love Ranch outside of Reno. Irene (Gina Gershon), Mallory (Taryn Manning), Christina (Scout Taylor-Compton), Samantha (Bai Ling), and Alana (Elise Neal) are some of the girls working at the ranch. Charlie is unstable and recruits boxer Armando Bruza to train out on the ranch. His criminal background forces Grace to be Bruza's manager. He controls the local police and faces an effort to criminalize prostitution.

This is a mess of stories. It can't be the actors because there are some great ones here. There is probably too many story elements going on. It's in the writing itself. It should concentrate on Mirren and Pesci. It should also get somebody bigger than Sergio Peris-Mencheta. The movie seems to struggle for an identity. It's a waste of great talents.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Focus on character, not history, wins the day

Author: Don McKenzie from South Africa
4 July 2011

Picture a caricature of everything that America, at some level, holds dear, yet despises. Think bling, brash, frantically optimistic and determinedly selfish, and you have the main character typecast by a weathered Joe Pesci. Add to the mix an insecure, yet intelligent and reasonably efficient brothel "madam" who is trapped by economics and an irresponsible, hyperactive, and deliberately delusional husband, and. you have a marriage which must resonate across the globe.

The film opens with an ironic and trite hope for the future. Auld Lang Syne is sung at a New Year's Eve party, which Robert Burnes, no stranger to joys of the flesh himself, would possibly have avoided. A stark naked man who has transcended the bounds of good taste, and possibly the law, is driven by the "Madam" (Helen Mirren) into the waiting furniture wielded by her husband, Pesci. The tame police in attendance remove the problem and the party continues.

Gradually the dynamics of the Pesci/Mirren relationship are revealed. She actually likes her charges and comforts herself in the knowledge that she is keeping them off the streets.

He struts around like a dove with an over-inflated breast, a disgustingly showy car with the vanity plate "LUV SEX", and the nickname of "Mr Good Times". He is a man whose very posture suggests violence, and he has only to threaten to smash the home telephone, her link to the outside world, to ensure that her timid attempt at rebellion turns into a whimpering desire to please him.

Pleasing him in the only way he understands is not that easy as she is older than the available nymphets and is very aware that his sudden business calls are not to any office block. The marriage of financial and social convenience could, theoretically, have lasted for years, as many convenient couples will attest, but reality has the unpleasant habit of intruding. A visit to the doctor and plastic convenience is stripped away. The selfishness of her husband is expertly conveyed in his answer to her questioning his love for her. "I *** love you," he says, "I could have never found a woman as loyal as you to take my s***." It says everything that he is totally unaware of the egocentric nature of his declaration of love.

Later, when their world is falling apart, and she is experiencing loss, and almost claustrophobic grief,he rails at her that she doesn't know what the **** he went through all night.

The tragic moment which announces the end of the film is justified by the quality of the acting. Yes, this could happen, and be a small article on the front page of the morning newspapers, but the film has made its point before the actual violence. It is all about self, the need for self-validation at the expense of others, the need to be desirable, the need to be in control, and even the need to be physically dominant while all these have inevitably and irrevocably been taken away by time.

It is a film worthy of a second viewing, if only to enjoy the performance of Pesci (which he has reprized from Goodfellas) and the revelation which is Helen Mirren. That she could go from the ultra- British role as the Queen to this, without a trace of genteel accent, but retain all the pathos of a woman who wants to love her husband and her life, is remarkable. Even the director gives her credit in an in- joke. When her husband dons a hat in keeping with his personality, she asks him who he thinks he is, 'Clint Eastwood'. He replies: "Who do you think you are? The Queen of England?"

Eminently watchable, character-driven, and filmed with an understated slickness, this is a film which might, regrettably, not set the box office alight, but which is very worth viewing for so many reasons. True, there are elements that echo events in some well-known films, which my spoiler-conscience prevents me from naming, but it is safe to say that this film strips the sentimentality from such and is the better for it. Taylor Hackford, I look forward to your next.

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