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
The truths explored in `Sonny' are not easily accessible to those who have never faced the choice that faces Sonny Phillips: whether to `square up,' or continue in a life style with extremely limited options, and little room for growth. Many who are born into a life of prostitution never seriously consider leaving it, most who have never experienced that life style are unaware of the dishonesties and injustices inherent in living on their more socially-acceptable middle-class level. The story sums up neatly: Sonny comes home after a stint in the army with the goal of leaving behind his former life style as a male prostitute. His mother, Jewel, who turned him out when he was twelve years old, now lives off of Carol, a beautiful young whore who has Sonny's old bedroom. Jewel wants to keep Sonny with her, and have him work as a team with Carol.
Somehow, 26-year-old James Franco is able to tap into a wellspring of emotional depth to show the anguish attendant in the decision Sonny tries to make and honor. Somehow, Nicolas Cage was able to lead him to it. What these two have accomplished should not be overlooked or undervalued. `Sonny' is a magnificent achievement. It is a movie that explores many themes, paramount among them that each of us is worthy of love, capable of innocence and growth. Real affection can be found in the unlikeliest of places, respect shows itself in many ways, trust is fragile, and love doesn't protect anyone from anything. Franco's performance could be considered nothing short of miraculous, if it weren't known how hard-working an actor he is. This range of talent hasn't been seen since 1955; his slight frame belies his power, and his smile is an endearing joy. Mena Suvari, as his love-interest, Carol, is also an unexpected delight, bringing to mind nothing so much as Carroll Baker's performance in `Baby Doll.' Her combination of innocence and sexuality is reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe's, and it's nice that someone is on the scene to keep that flame alive. Also noteworthy is Brenda Vaccaro as Meg, an old trick of Sonny's who's eager to spend time with him again. She brings a warmth and generosity to a role that could seem ludicrous in a lesser actress. Not least among all these terrific talents is Brenda Blethyn as Sonny's mother Jewel. Although her southern accent seems questionable, it's difficult to think of another actress who could make someone who's done something this despicable to her child, seem genuine and likable. As her friend, Harry Dean Stanton also pulls off something unexpected, bringing depth of character to someone whose occupation as a shoplifter could otherwise lead us to think of as shallow. But it is a director's vision that pulls a movie together, and Nicolas Cage is to be heartily and enthusiastically commended for what he's accomplished here. `Sonny' is a wonderful movie.
Am baffled at the low ratings and poor reviews this film has gotten. Would this still have been the case if Nick Cage were not an A-List actor? I thought this film to be a phenomenal character piece that kept me gripped until the very end. James Franco once again shows his chops as one of the best actors of his generation. Perhaps the film was a little too real for many to take and showed a life of prositution that was not through Hollywood goggles (ie Pretty Woman). With the exception of Scott Caan, all the performances were stellar and the movie was a phenomenal debut for any first time director. I hope that you haters out there do not sway Mr. Cage away from his position behind the lens.
What a beautifully, honest film! Nic Cage makes his Directorial debut and an extremely successful one at that. Not knowing what to expect going into this film I was thrilled to find a brilliantly acted, enthralling story unfold before my eyes.
My hat is off to James Franco who did an amazing job of portraying an emotionally conflicted young man in a performance that reminds me a great deal of a young Brando or Montgomery Clift. In fact all the actors did a sterling job with each character slowly unraveling as the script built. What struck me the most about this film was the evidence of creative freedom that can only come from a director who truly understands the vulnerability and sacred space that an actor must work in.
"Sonny" is a film that gives me hope that all is not lost in "Hollywood". It is a film that you can't help but become a part of. It is a film that reeks of truth, honesty and character. A perfect cast, solid script, excellent music and the lightest of directorial touches make for a must see film.
Sonny, the son of a New Orleans whore, returns home from the army determined to start a new life far away from prostitution. He finds that, even in 'live and let live' New Orleans, one's past is hard to escape.
The characters in this film are disturbing, volitile and manipulative. Other times they are sensitive, caring and fragile. Even Cage's over the top portrayal of a pimp, left me with the feeling that people such as this existed in the early 80's sex industry. The film captured excellent and emotional performances by James Franco, Brenda Blethyn, Harry Dean Stanton and Mena Suvari. Nicholas Cage, in his directorial debut, brings to life a script that fits well with his 'outside the box' body of work. The unusual sound track relied heavily on Bach and Beethoven with Devo and Wall of Voodoo mixed in.
Sonny was shown to a US audience for the first time at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia. A superb Roger Ebert interview of Mr. Cage followed. During the interview, we learned that the film went into production 3 weeks after Mr.Cage decided to produce and direct the project. It was shot primarily in a French Quarter building that Mr. Cage happened upon, purchased and now does not know what to do with. Filming lasted 6 weeks. Even if you consider the fact that Nicholas Cage first read the script many years ago, intending to play the part of Sonny, it is unbelievable that this film went from 'green light' to 'in the can' in 9 weeks.
I really enjoyed the slightly unusual dimension brought to the film by Nicholas Cages's direction, showing the same characteristics as many of the films in which he has a leading role. The role of Yellow acid was a bit over the top but the other roles all believable and well acted. The much worked cliché of being drawn back into a rut was kept interesting by the unlikely paradox that a good looking and sexually adapt male could struggle to impress in normal situations simply because of the stigma and baggage of his previous occupation. James Franco was an excellent choice as Sonny portraying the on the surface shy but extremely confident individual with great believability.
I'll be honest, my reasoning for renting this was to watch Franco's performance. I'm coming to respect his talent and the roles he chooses; intelligent.
So I watched the trailer and thought that it might stink. I held my breath. All I can say is 'wow'. This movie is gritty and intense and lacks the Hollywood gloss - which I loved. It's REAL. It's not pretty. It's life.
I've been kicking around the idea of pursuing acting and high-tailing it to a good school, so I watched all the performer's in this like a hawk. I really did. And I couldn't see the acting. It blew me away. Everyone, down to the bit parts were spot on. Watch their eyes, everyone gives that honesty that you don't see the actor's...you loose yourself in the characters despite yourself. So I really resonated with one writer's comment on here that this is an actor's film. If you're looking for Hollywood this isn't it. I will be seeking out more Indie's now, and checking out that scene.
Besides Franco, I was equally impressed with H.D. Stanton; his kitchen scene was another one of those 'wows' for me. When the movie was over I just sat there and realized what a surprise of a film it wound up being. I expected, I don't know what I expected really, but certainly not that.
For anyone who hasn't seen it: if you're into character study and performance, it's worth it. If you're looking for simple entertainment, it won't hold you and you'll be disappointed.
This was the first time I went back and watched a movie with the commentary on, I watched it with the writer's commentary first (which is hilarious at some points and cracked me up) and then with Nic's. I enjoyed both.
*btw, I forgot to mention also that I thought the music was great also. The classical pieces were a good touch, Ring of Fire has been in my head for days and is driving me nuts; the soft theme is just haunting; emotional and tender. Subtly tragic and lonely, like the film itself. Some people might not really get this movie. I thought it was quite powerful.
i am a film student and i make it a point to stay up till 330 a.m just to watch movies like this. first there were slow moments, and some forced actions between characters, but franco's acting is always superb. i mean the shot where he flips out in the car, or when he screams at the naked girl on the floor. directing is basic. the editing is fast and tells the story well. i liked all the characters, the mother had me hating her the second she spoke and james made me feel bad for his character.
i honestly think that if you want to see a good undiscovered movie that wont win awards, but can be picked apart for joy and scrutiny then this will do it. overall acting is very well, and the story has a few plot holes but if you watch the direction the director wants you to then it makes up for it
I saw this movie last night and I am still thinking about the characters in the movie Sonny. I thought the characters were very unique and displayed some deep emotion, which is definitely not something I can say about the characters in most other "mainstream" movies. James Franco does an excellent job and is able to convey a lot of emotion (or lack of) through his facial expressions. Also, the scene where he flips out on the trick for not paying him his full amount was excellent.
I can understand why some people disliked Sonny though; there is not a lot of action in the film but much more focus on the characters' personal traits and lives. To some people (like my boyfriend) lack of action automatically makes a movie boring. However, I think sometimes action in movies is dazzling yet empty. Sonny is a great movie, especially if you like to watch movies that focus more on interactions between people rather than action.
Sonny is a brilliant story of a young man who desperately wants to leave his past behind and begin a new life. However, the past catches up with him and he has no choice but to revert to the life he so longed to leave behind. The acting in this film is absolutely brilliant. James Franco doesn't cease to surprise me with his powerful performances. He's definitely fantastic in this film. Nicholas Cage's directorial debut is not bad, but there were a couple of loopholes in the plot which he could have filled in. Despite that, he's done quite a good job. Sonny is a great drama and a must-watch. I think it definitely deserves a 9/10.
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.
(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.
What a terrific movie. I thought the writing and acting were superb. The lead character's story is poignant. Prostitution has rarely been portrayed on the screen in such an honest and gripping manner. The actors were terrific, and the director set the mood very well. Kudos to all.
I love this movie. It shows how hard it is to change what you know and feel comfortable in due to the fact that you didn't have a proper upbringing. It is painful, you see Sonny and the other character played by Mena Suvari trying desperately to change but finding it so hard to do so. I love the scene where Sonny goes out with the "normal" kids and wants to be like them and tries to be like them, he's so close yet so far. That was heartbreaking, how that scene ends. The other heartbreaking scene was the one with Mena suvari and Sonny in the rain. They are two good people who just don't know how to survive in any other way. They are like children in adult bodies. I loved it.
Overall I really liked this film. I thought James Franco was excellent in the title role. Certain scenes devolved into crappy melodrama, such as the dialogue outside the barn in the rain - "tell me we'll make it, baby!" -a sobbing, rain-drenched Mena Suvari as Carol in a hideous southern accent. But certain parts were very sweet in a non-saccharine way; James Franco cuddling up to the Texas junkie after sex, thinking this is his ticket to a straight life. And who could not enjoy Nicholas Cage as Acid Yellow? I would honestly give it 7 or 8 out of 10. Harry Dean Stanton is a favorite, even Scott Caan is pretty good, although, as another user pointed out, I would never, ever believe that he ever read Camus, and that scene didn't fit with the rest of the character.
European audiences are used to slower pace and darker subject-matters, so this pic would undoubtedly be more appreciated in the Continent than it has been in the US...
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.
This movie is great. The seedy settings feel real, and I for one dig the character´s attitudes, even though Sonny´s predicament is hard to take in at times. The acting is excellent overall -great supporting actors- and the four principals give remarkable, tuned in performances. Harry Dean Stanton stands out as a loveable, pathetic good-for-nothing, he manages to make you root for him in all his scenes. The depiction of the underworld is fascinating and makes a lasting impression. The director takes us places he´s not afraid to tread and we were curious to go but didn´t dare on our own. And the ending is a big pay-off, kudos to Mr. Cage for considering us smart enough to figure it out as we please.
All in all, a bold directorial debut, in line with the bold acting choices of the director. And look out for James Franco, he´s a star-to-be.
LOL, I didn't realize Acid Yellow was Nicolas Cage! Oh my gosh, James Franco is the most handsome man on earth - his smile melts me every time! What a wonderful movie portraying the inner lives of the prostitutes. I was captivated from beginning to end at the humanness of the characters and their struggles. They were such pure souls longing for a way out. I think what I loved most about the movie was watching Mena Suvari and James Franco, they are so easy on the eyes, very beautiful, I love those actors!!! The ending confuses the heck out of me, can someone help me with understanding it? I give this movie 10 stars easily and will have to add it to my movie collection!
Rented this blind, and didn't realise it was Nic Cage's directorial debut. Big fan of his, or at least his early work. Talking of his early work, the film showed clear clues as to his influences, as the film has touches of Coen and Lynch about it (Cage's cameo in particular was extremely Lynchian). I thought the story interesting and well executed. The characters were wonderful, in particular Blenthyn's 'madame'. I thought visually it worked brilliantly, in particular setting it in 1981 (presumably of course where the book is set). I like how the film's ending allowed you to make up your own mind.
Very worthy effort from Cage and well worth a viewing
I saw this film at a film festival in Sarasota Florida. it was supposed to be the opening film and all my friends and I drove up from Orlando for a chance to meet Nicholas Cage but he wasn't able to come and we all left dissapointed... Yet his film surprised all of us UCF film students! We loved it! A lot of people were saying that it wasn't going to be good but we saw it anyways because we know that Nick Cage is a man of many talents and knew his film was gonna kick ass and it did! Great character journeys in this one! Well developed plot too! See if or buy it if you can! _brandon
i thought that Sonny was a very good movie. I wasn't expecting much whenever I rented the movie- i only rented it because i love James Franco. but the movie really did surprise and impress me.I loved James Franco in this. His acting was very good. I felt his pain, especially when I looked in his eyes. His eyes tell it all. The rest of the acting was also very good. Mena Suvari did an excellent job as well.I liked the story line behind it all and it was put together very well. I can imagine trying to change your life like he did, but failing. I know how hard it is to be rejected or put down, and in this movie, Sonny deals with it well for the most part i suppose. This is a movie that i would definitely recommend seeing, it has great actors, a good story line, and who can say no to seeing James almost naked body? :)
Sonny is a moronic film that offers little except to draw attention to itself. What was Nicholas cage thinking? You would think that after all the films he has done that melodrama would be something he would have avoided at all costs. He must have beeen paying too much attention to Lisa Marie at the time. He took his eye off the ball.
This movie is beautiful. I didn't expect much of it (having seen Ethan Hawke's "Chelsea Walls" a few months earlier), but from the moment I heard the first NOTE of music (on a black screen), I was captivated. I remember thinking, "don't feel the need to fill the screen yet. Just let the music play for a bit. No image yet, no image yet." And it was the most gratifying thing ever too see that Cage 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 start.
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!
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.