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Illuminata (1998)

R | | Drama, Romance | 1 May 1999 (Japan)
1:55 | Trailer
A turn-of-the-20th-century theatre repertory company rejects the latest project of their beloved playwright Tuccio, kicking off a saga of intrigue surrounding the influential critic Bevalaqua and star Celimene.


John Turturro


Brandon Cole (play), Brandon Cole (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Leo Bassi Leo Bassi ... Beppo
Henri Behar Henri Behar ... Pitou
Maurizio Benazzo Maurizio Benazzo ... Passerby
Fernando Bolles Fernando Bolles ... Boy #2
Katherine Borowitz ... Rachel
Jeff Braun Jeff Braun ... Duke
David Cale ... Journalist
Georgina Cates ... Simone
Kenny Cranna Kenny Cranna ... Scruffy man
Beverly D'Angelo ... Astergourd
George DiCenzo ... Jailor
Timothy Doyle Timothy Doyle ... Aristocrat #1 (as Timothy Doyle)
Ben Gazzara ... Old Flavio
Alexander Goodwin ... Crying boy
Amo Gulinello Amo Gulinello ... Pupo


It's the start of the 20th century, and Tuccio, resident playwright of a theatre repertory company offers the owners of the company his new play, "Illuminata". They reject it, saying it's not finished, and intrigue starts that involves influential critic Bevalaqua, theatre star Celimene, young lead actors and other theatre residents. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, nudity and language | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Cinematographer Harris Savides (1957-2012) has an uncredited part as a theatre patron who walks up to John Turturro's character Tuccio, the resident playwright of the theatre, and says to him: "Did you see the play? I hated it.". See more »


[looking at a youthful and beautiful actress 20 years her junior, says wistfully]
Celimene: Someday I shall look like that. I'm beginning to be able to play ingénues.
See more »


Referenced in Moesha: Mis-directed Study (1999) See more »

User Reviews

dull backstage drama
31 January 2000 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

"Write what you know about" has long been the dictum for writers ranging all the way from accomplished published authors to struggling composition class students; is there a playwright then who can resist the temptation to compose a play about composing a play? It has, of course, been done countless times in the past ("Shakespeare in Love" being but the most recent popular example), but, alas, rarely as dully as in "Illuminata," Brandon Cole's tale of a turn-of-the-century repertory company struggling, amid personal conflicts, theatrical roadblocks and even death, to produce an original work (itself entitled "Illuminata"). Cole, along with co-writer and director, John Turturro, centers his story on the playwright, Tuccio, (also played by Turturro), as he copes with temperamental actors, theatre owners and critics, all of whom conspire, intentionally or unintentionally, to sabotage his work.

Like so many films that attempt to deal seriously with the creative process, "Illuminata" seems naively to suggest that inspiration can only be achieved after the creator has undergone a series of concomitant life experiences that somehow illuminate the truths hitherto obscured in darkness. Thus, since, in this case, the play-within-the-play deals with the issue of marital infidelity, it is only after the entire cast and crew of the production have participated in a night long sexual roundelay (which consists essentially of switching partners in a style too cute for words) that the play (which failed in its first performance the night before) can come to complete artistic fruition. This cloying and cliched view of theatre as merely a reflection of life (or vice versa) might have been acceptable had the script provided any truly interesting characters, profound insights or satiric wit to carry us through. As it is, though, the characters are both unappealing and woefully underdeveloped, the insights consist of mere self-indulgent paeans to the glory of artistic creation and the humor rests mainly in a series of surprisingly crude illustrations of sexual activity. Furthermore, Turturro is such a dull, uninspiring lead, with his constant sadsack expression and look of pained bewilderment, that he conveys no sense of the dynamism essential to a person capable of producing a work of genius. This leaves the rest of the cast, some of whom are very good, pretty much adrift as they thrash about looking for something solid in the way of character development to hold onto.

Actually, the highlight of this film comes during the opening credit sequence, a beautifully done marionette performance that is almost heartbreaking in its otherworldly beauty and delicacy. It is a measure of the failure of the rest of the film that the audience wishes IT were performed by marionettes as well.

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Spain | USA | Japan



Release Date:

1 May 1999 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Häivähdys paratiisista See more »

Filming Locations:

Jersey City, New Jersey, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$53,264, 8 August 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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