Romance & Cigarettes (2005) Poster

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Bold and Beautiful
mario-dalimonte15 September 2005
I just saw this wonderful film at the Toronto Film Festival and what a delightful experience it was. It's so refreshing to see a film-maker who is willing to take the huge, bold risks that John Turturo has taken in his direction. Also, what a treat it was to see James Gandofini, Susan Sarandon, Christopher Walken and Kate Winslet singing and dancing and making outrageous and exciting acting choices. A wonderful selection of music, a charming and literate script and consistently good performance....what else could you ask for in a movie. Watch for Elaine Stritch in a brief role that is should be required viewing for any acting student. Also loved the work of Aida Turturro. This film was a joy to watch!
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Great movie - don't be put off by the "musical" tag
goodsela22 March 2006
John Turturro has created something very special here. Look at the cast list. The names alone make it a must-see for many cinema lovers, yet the description of musical might also put many off. Well don't worry. This film uses existing songs to enhance emotional statements at intervals throughout this gritty film. It mixes them with Brooklyn working life, some sex, lots of humour and pathos and fantastically it all works. The songs are used a la Dennis Potter and seep in and out of the narrative flow as easily as a gentle voice-over. Great performances by everyone but stunners from Kate Winslet (now that's a proper body), Elaine Stritch ("Every breath is a victory") and Christopher Walken, always riveting. James Gandolfini plays a slightly different Tony Soprano but that fits in just right. Quite simply a pleasure from first 'til last. Thank you John.
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weird but strangely wonderful
adamk-227 March 2006
"Romance & Cigarettes" is a flawed but endearing film. Its stylised dialogue -- often stitched together from song lyrics, lines from films and, I think, even a snatch of Beckett's Endgame -- its characters bursting into lip-synched song and dance, its strange, disjointed scenes and its total lack of romance will doubtless annoy a lot of people hoping for something somewhat more straightforward and conventional. Personally, I was hoping for something that might address the issues of love, romance and relationships which the film, instead, prodded gently before dancing and singing around them. I would also have liked to have seen more of Mary Louise Parker, who I thought was cruelly underused. And...Eddie Izzard? And yet...and yet...I really liked this film. It had an inventiveness and a quirky charm, a surreal, loopy approach to narrative and dialogue, was beautifully filmed and -- within limitations of the form -- wonderfully acted. Particular kudos to Kate Winslet, unrecognizably and thoroughly dislikeable, who nonetheless "sings" one of the more heart-stopping numbers, Ute Lemper's version of Cave & Piseks "Little Water Song", while underwater. Meanwhile, adding to his gallery of whacked-out and weird characters, Christopher Walken delivers what must be one of his weirdest performances yet as the Elvis-idolising Cousin Bo. Like a lot of things in this film, you have to see it to believe it, and even then you won't be too sure.

I see cultdom beckoning for this little gem, late-night showings, repeated viewings, singalongs and favourite lines of dialogue bandied about like a secret currency. It's unlikely that it would have been made if it wasn't John Turturro writing and the Coens producing, but now it's out there, I recommend it be seen, if only for curiosity value. You either hate it or love it and -- for all its flaws -- I loved it.
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Tuturro Faces the Music
tjcclarke27 March 2006
Direction duties on the latest Coen brothers release have been entrusted to an able lieutenant in John Tuturro – the scene-stealing actor from O Brother, Where Art Thou, Miller's Crossing and The Big Lebowski. In his hands, Romance and Cigarettes embraces all the staple Coen nuances but is unsettlingly gritty – less kitsch, more kitchen sink.

Predictably, the film is just a fraction beyond offbeat. For starters it is a musical – original songs and irreverent covers belch incongruously through the pithy dialogue – and, while appearing slightly amateurish at times, in the main it is shot with a grimy panache.

The anti-hero is Nick Murder (James Gandolfini) - an overweight, chain-smoking construction worker who is married to Kitty (Susan Sarandon), but having a torrid affair with ballsy English slapper Tula (Kate Winslet). Nick has a trio of daughters (Mandy Moore – precocious sex bomb, Mary Louise Parker – punk and Aida Tuturro – chubby mummy's girl) who pass the time knocking out grungey rock music in their back garden. Plot-wise, that's about your lot - superficially, the movie is about a family coping with adultery, but this is the Coen brothers, so there are always points of interest lurking in the mundane subject matter.

If you're going to have a stab at unconventional drama, it is best to arm yourself with some quality to beef up your oddballs. So Tuturro has called in favours from Steve Buscemi who raises more than a few chortles as Nick's philosophising co-worker, and an elaborately coiffed Christopher Walken who lends the fancy footwork he cultured on that Fatboy Slim video to some of the more surreal dance sequences. Weirder still is Eddie Izzard's new age church choir organist who distributes marital advice to Mrs. Murder in between belting out gospel hits.

A stellar cast then, and one cannot fault the promotional poster, which is so dominated by Winslet's mountainous, and, let's face it, almost certainly air-brushed breasts (no offence Kate) that it has been crudely censored on the London Underground.

The poster hints at Winslet being some sort of femme fatale, but she actually has few scenes to demonstrate anything other than jiggling, pouting and athletic sexual gymnastics. Much of her dialogue (delivered in an ambiguously mid-Pennines northern accent) is absolutely filthy dirty and is, if you close your eyes, uncomfortably evocative of Kathy Staff in Last of the Summer Wine. No wonder I had nightmares afterwards.

Winslet is following in the footsteps of Helena Bonham Carter, shrugging off the corset and the irritating "English rose" label by taking increasingly earthy roles. Serious, cerebral critics (their spectacles steaming up with every cleavage shot) will no doubt call this performance "brave", "challenging" or even "career defining". More realistically, she probably saw it as an ideal chance to prance around in hot pants and spout smut breathlessly into a telephone whilst trying desperately not to giggle. Either way, it's obviously some sort of trend among English actresses – watch out for Keira Knightley in the new remake of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

But beneath the silliness beats a mournful heart. The Coens' influence, though undeniably prominent, does not swamp Tuturro's serious side and the last third of the movie sees a significant mood change.

Buscemi, Walken and the quirky choreography take a back seat as Gandolfini and Sarandon muscle their way to the fore. It is an impressively gripping finale to a curiously disjointed film, and one which, on balance, just about tips it towards triumph rather than turkey.

The story is wafer thin and the musical set pieces veer dangerously between hit and miss. Frankly it's a bit of a shambles at times, but no less enjoyable for that.

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21st century cinema at it's best. Entertaining and original.
andiedan9 April 2006
A film truly worthy of the Coen brothers. If you like their films, you'll love this one. It was not surprising to see that they were the producers. John Turturro's original script and direction make this a very fresh and enjoyable experience. The actors must have enjoyed making the film as this comes across very strongly.

The choice of backdrop - New York suburbs and anonymous looking workers' housing - only serves only to emphasise the colourfulness of each of the characters. Like Robert Altman's films, the banal is turned into the extraordinary using popular music and quite original camera work. Personally, I don't see this film as a "musical" in the sense that the music is not used to tell the story but rather as mood pieces for various scenes.

This is one of the few films that I will invest in the DVD as soon as it is out.
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Refreshing musical
hermes-1013 April 2006
Good music, well-choreographed dancing, quirky sense of humor, a little dark. A bunch of good actors are giving a solid performance. They appear to have enjoyed themselves. Susan Sarandon is great, Kate Winslet deliciously foul-mouthed. The photography is mostly very aesthetic, although of course not as perfect as that of the Coen brothers, who produced the movie. The movie fits well into the universe of the Coen brothers' work while having its own special character. Good job, John Turturro, a very enjoyable movie! I wasn't aware of Turturro as a director. IMDb shows he has made two earlier movies, in 1992 and 1998 (both as a director and a writer, just as with this present movie). Those movies had low scores. After Romance & Cigarettes I will be keeping my eyes open for this new director. As the title suggests, there is a lot of smoking in this movie, but it can hardly be seen as positive advertising for the tobacco industry, fortunately. Conservative Christians had better avoid this movie, it would only upset them. An 8 out of 10.
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a weird cookie of a movie- sweet and cool, if not exactly all that good for you
Quinoa198426 February 2008
John Tuturro is nothing else if not original, and his second film as writer/director is nothing if not a swift kick in the nuts to the sheen of movie musical. It's fresh and original and, when at its best, extremely and surprisingly funny. Tuturro casts very well for a story that's like a half-baked fever-dream of blue collar malaise (think the Honeymooners meets French New-Wave art film): Gandolfini plays Nick Murder, a man who loves his wife Kitty (Sarandon), but can't seem to lay off the women on the side - the one she's now with, Tula (cockney-voiced Winslet) - is a fiery redhead. Right at the start there's an argument and a near fight, and the rest of the film becomes a rumination and celebration of love and lust and other crazy things involved with the human heart, leading up to redemption.

There's a certain quality to Romance and Cigarettes that marks it as a pop-marked must-see, a picture with terrific songs (ranging from Joplin to James Brown to Elvis to Cindi Lauper), and some terrific numbers to go along with them. There's an exuberance that Tuturro reaches for that he achieves like few who've made musicals in the past several years; his actors, however much they do or don't seem to be singing with the songs playing on during the numbers, are into the groove, the abstract/surreal quality that at times makes it like a whacked out extended dream sequence on the Sopranos (Buscemi and Tuturro sister Aida were also on the show, the latter here as Gandolfini's daughter as opposed to his sister on the show). There is so much that does entertain that it becomes a shame when it starts to dawn on one that a) the film has a shallow center to it, as we know nothing much about Nick and Kitty's marriage aside from the spoken words of "we were in love, then, not", and then leading into b) an unnecessarily bleak ending, where the possible reigns of the high spirits are replaced by a kind of screeching-halt aesthetic, albeit with the most organically sung (i.e. out of the scene itself not as a NUMBER) song in the film.

But for fans of film in general it's a scatter-shot treat that provides the kinds of joy that the usual Hollywood grind wont provide. Top of the pops belong to Christopher Walken, who has a strange accent (black guy or slight southern-touch as Cousin Bo?) pulls off his funniest in a song since the Weapon of Choice music video, and just whenever on screen has one either smiling or laughing hysterically. Winslet is also astoundingly good here in a part that requires her to be tart-tongued but not a floozy, sophisticated in a manner of speaking even if the 'girl on the side'. She gives it her all, which also goes (mostly) for the main middle-aged stars. Sometimes you do wish you could just hear the actors belt out the songs themselves without the background tuning up as if it's like a demented karaoke out of the New York/New Jersey blue collar world. But when they do connect, it's a lot of fun. Same goes for the movie itself- a very admirable first time out, if almost too ambitious for the nature of the script.
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Another form of musical
stensson8 April 2006
This is funny in a way that American movies usually aren't. Gandolfini is playing a character extremely far away from all Soprano stuff. But he's a hero.

He's cheating on his wife in a way which isn't glamorous, just rather cheap and rather human. Susan Sarandon as the wife is really funny through all her love-hate. This family is dysfunctional, but in a way that's impossible not to like.

And it really is a musical. Sometimes. The characters burst out, miming to hit songs. That's show stoppers, but in the good sense of the word. It's all worth seeing.
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Down to earth, with musical colouring
SilkyWilky14 November 2011
I hate musicals, and fell into watching this without realising it was one of them, but this turned out to be one of the best films I've seen. I was thoroughly entertained in many ways.

It's gritty and real whilst indulging the fantasy that allows us to get by. The music adds colour to what is already happening, it's seamless. The Engelbert Humperdinck song near the beginning is possibly one of the best ever performed songs in a movie, it's so funny! The characters are engaging and full, bordering on grotesque. Even with their exaggerated sides, there's part of them thats simple and warm, and could be the neighbour up the street or a member of your own family.

It's not a complex story but it is rich, hitting many of life's notes with degree of understatement spiced with well projected emotions.

The artistic camera work stands out in many scenes, a joy for the eye. All in all a real down to earth arty film that will appeal to people from all walks of life. For me it doesn't get much better than this.
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Quite a mess
aadamtx3 January 2008
Just saw this film about a week ago in Los Angeles with a friend who desperately wanted to catch it, primarily because of the great cast. I'd heard a bit about it previously, mostly negative reviews from the professional critics, but I thought I'd give it a go, primarily for Susan Sarandon. After about the first half-hour, I had a few solid impressions: (1) the sing-alongs mostly didn't work and were sometimes just annoying; (2) the editing went from fair to non-existent, with scenes just vanishing; (3) most of the actors were wasted -- more like cameo appearances than roles (did Elaine Stritch just happen to be in the neighborhood?); (4) the choreography apparently was supposed to be unstylish and clunky, but it often was just distracting. While watching the final credits, I saw the 2005 copyright date and assumed that the studio thought the film too poor for release, and my friend agree--after saying that it was one of the worst movies he'd ever seen.

If you want to see singing and dancing noir, stick with Potter's THE SINGING DETECTIVE or the underrated Martin-Peters flick PENNIES FROM HEAVEN.
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You know you do it, too...
Fedaykin_Sadako22 July 2006
When I first heard about this film, I knew that I would love it. I knew that it would have quirky dialogue and stilted situations and yet be fantastically fantastic, not to mention the dream cast. The thing that closed the deal for me was finding out that one of Susan Sarandon's songs would be "Piece of My Heart." When I heard that, I knew that I NEEDED to see this film.

I was not let down in the slightest.

I love how it takes something we all do at any given time (seek solace in singing a song that portrays how we're feeling) and makes a movie around it. The cast is simply to die for. They're all amazing, though we could have used more Mary-Louise Parker and Eddie Izzard, and it's a perfect film for all of them.

Love it...absolutely love it.
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Potter's Field
happy_hangman29 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I wasn't aware, until seeing 'Romance & Cigarettes', that John Turturro was an admirer of the late, great Dennis Potter. Potter recognised that the manufactured sentimentality of the popular song could have an astonishing emotional potency, and had actors lip-synch to hits of the '30s, '40s and '50s to good dramatic effect in three of his most effective television dramas, 'Pennies From Heaven', 'The Singing Detective' and (the less accomplished) 'Lipstick On My Collar'. This was an innovative way of advancing plot and revealing characters' hopes, nightmares and aspirations without resorting to the formal glitz of the movie musical. Of course Hollywood, in adapting the first two of these dramas, rather missed the point that these weren't musicals, and tried to make the numbers as glamorous as possible. Here Turturro has his actors sing along to pop classics in a sort of poorly choreographed 'theatrical karaoke' – not helped by the inescapable fact that most of his cast can't sing and look hugely uncomfortable.

The sexual confusions and middle-aged masculine betrayals which preoccupied Potter are here, but while one or two of the songs have a passing relevance to the emotional dramas being played out in the rest of the script, some of them – Christopher Walken's rendition of the Tom Jones hit 'Delilah' (oddly Walken's rendition of the title song in 'Pennies From Heaven' was the only genuinely impressive thing about that film) – are astonishingly contrived. We can see the songs coming, which – despite their grimy, urban context – deprives them of the spontaneous energy that fuelled Potters best work. Song titles and lyrics, similarly, are levered into the otherwise conversational (and occasionally very witty) script at every opportunity – including, for no apparent reason, a verse of Potter's favourite hymn, 'Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown'.

There are some very funny moments – Kate Winslet's line, on being dumped by boyfriend James Gandolfini, "You wouldn't be able to say that so easily if I was licking your b***!", produced a huge roar of laughter from the audience at the screening I attended. Some of the performances are, in and of themselves, very good – Sarandon and Elaine Stritch, particularly. Gandolfini plays his trademark lovable-rogue, and Winslet plays, very successfully, against type – and gives the impression that she has hitherto unsuspected comic talents. Steve Buscemi's movie-nerd builder is amusing. Mary-Louise Parker (astonishingly miscast) Aida Turturro and even Mr Walken simply seem to be along for the ride.

Played as a comedy-drama with no music and a greater reliance on the observational wit the writer-director clearly possesses, this could have been a fine film. It isn't.
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a delight for the mind, the eyes, and the ears
rob-22469 April 2008
Although I had never heard of this film, I had to see it when I read that the cast included Susan Sarandon, possibly the sexist actress out there, and James Gandolfini. And then I noticed the Coen Brothers involvement and anticipated a winner.

The opening scenes seemed to be a preamble to a simple story about betrayal in an everyman sort of family. And then there was music. And James Gandolfini was singing a Tom Jones hit (if my recollection is right) in the street accompanied by dancing policemen. I grinned from ear to ear for the entire remainder of the film.

I am waiting to see the film again, in part to decide whether the lover so colorfully portrayed by Kate Winslett, was a fantasy or a reality. It doesn't really matter because she was so real for Nick Murder. Mary-Louise Parker was at her quirkiest as one of his daughters.

Visually, the film includes a variety of perspectives, opening with a pullback from a microscopic view of a few pores on Nick's big toe to his entire hulking body and the sofa on which he sleeps. The music scenes are all as original as the songs chosen.

Enjoy this film. There aren't many out there that entertain on so many levels.
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Gritty, funny, brash and wild!
holawapachica4 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film is great! A gritty musical that does not ask its stars to be able to sing, dance or look like the typical classical Hollywood movie star. It's crazy dialogue and humour is hilarious, however it's more serious issues does knock you on your head and you leave the film thinking about how important and short life can be.

The brilliant and beautiful Kate Winslet once again proves herself as a great diverse character actress and the even more stunning Susan Sarandon does a fantastic job as the long suffering and hard working wife and mother. James Gandolfini plays the cheating nicotine- addicted husband who is surrounded by the strong and charismatic women in his life: his wife, his lover, his daughters and his mother. Buscemi and Walken are top-notch as usual. It was interesting to see Mandy Moore's involvement in this eccentric and occasionally filthy film. She clearly does not want to be labelled as a teen- virgin typecast actress from her performance in Romance and Cigarettes however; she still looks every bit the young, pretty pop princess/ actress. It would have been nice to see her loose the suntan and delicate appearance and opt for a more hardened image as does her co-stars Mary Louise Parker and Aida Turturro and the rest of the cast.

Romance and Cigarettes brings fresh new life into the tired and almost dead genre. It is not the type of musical that asks its audience to forget about life's problems whilst watching it's colourful, creative and highly entertaining use of mise-en-scene, costumes, dialogue etc… instead it questions ones actions in life which ultimately can lead to one's regret and in the meantime gives you one hell of a laugh!!
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Excellent movie!
cillairne16 July 2006
I saw this movie at the Toronto film festival, 2005.....

The previous reviewer was absolutely correct - it was a very different type of movie from the usual.

A star-studded vehicle wherein the characters burst into song spontaneously at appropriate intervals - it engages the audience immediately since all of the songs are most recognizable. In essence, you've attended a super movie and participated in the unfolding story as well.

The musical aspects are a "master stroke." There is an underlying drama depicting the difficulties of relationships, family and everyday life and in no way is the story shortchanged by the use of the music.

There are many laughs and alternately serious moments and yet somehow the sum of the parts work to make an enjoyable and satisfying whole.

My understanding is the movie has been caught in merger "limbo" delaying the U.S. release and it's a terrible, terrible shame.

John Turturro is to be commended for his original screenplay and his directorial gifts.

Release this movie to the U.S. Moviegoig won't regret it!
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A failure...
glaseryaniv-22 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have read some of the comments on this movie here and I must say that I am quite surprised. This movie, innovative and interesting as it may be, is very mislead and badly done. There are a lot of good Ideas, so I won't give it a full-blown "0", but every Idea that comes up is crushed by the next. Almost nothing in this movie (and I'm a big fan of the Cohens and Tutturro)is established and well-thought through. For some reason none of this amazing cast show off there skills - as they tumble through words and lines that it seems they don't even understand. Bad directing - that seems to be the case... This movie shows that not everything that is a little different works. It's a badly put-together wannabe masterpiece from the house of those who brought us some of the most amazing movies of all times... Some fun songs and a decent ending do not make this movie worth while... I give it a 4...
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The New Rocky Horror Picture Show???
brewstersmillions30 August 2009
How oh how did I miss this one with all these major hipster stars in it?? I picked the DVD up for $2 on a clearance sale and took it to a friends house for a gag MST3K type viewing. I mean how bad could this thing be with Gandolfini singing? It only took maybe 5 minutes to get me hooked and then another 5 minutes to get me rolling on the effing floor. I mean not only is Tony Soprano singing but it is to an Englebert Humperdinck song!! And that is just the beginning. You get to see Walken singing Rockabilly, Buscemi cracking funnier than ever and Elaine Stritch busting balls better than even Tony Soprano's real mom. This is not even mentioning The Great Goddess Winslet singing dancing and out slutting even a good porn film star. And Kate looks absolutely DIVINE with her strawberry blonde/red curls and her underwater scene is b e a u t i f u l . This sucker needs to be showing at midnight and we all need to be dressing for the part in full fireman's gear and garter belts. I'm already working on my audience responses and practicing the songs to sing with. I forgot to mention Sweet Susan Sarandon whom I first noticed in The Rocky Horror Show. It is not an accident that Mr. Turturro placed her here. She is brilliant. Her performance as Kitty is even better than Janet from 30 years ago. (My God has it been 30 years???) Go get the rice and the squirt guns. This movie is a true gem. It makes me want to dance in the aisles, hang from the rafters and laugh my tiny Hiney off. Do not pass go. Go directly wherever you have to to see this asap!!!!!!!!!!! My crowd had to watch it twice in a row and now I'm ready to see it again. Bravo Mr. Turturro!!! 10/10
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A Misfire (but a well intentioned misfire)
Seamus282925 November 2007
Any of us who got to see John Tuturo's first film, 'Mac' thought, "well, John can certainly act, but now he can direct as well". His next couple of films barely squeaked out of the starting gate. Then he gave us 'Romance & Cigarettes',which although produced in 2005, is only now getting some distribution (out of John's own pocket,after United Artists,the studio that was originally supposed to distribute it underwent a change in staff,and ended up falling in a black hole in space). Despite a killer cast (James Gandolfini from 'The Sopranos',Susan Sarandon,from 'Thelma & Louise','The Rocky Horror Picture Show',and others),this is a mess of a film, that is occasionally a very funny mess,but none the less, a mess. The musical numbers seem to be slotted in where they just don't belong (although I will admit that I'm not exactly a fan of the musical format). Perhaps a re-edit would benefit this film greatly. It's still worth a look for Gandolfini,Sarandon,and company. I'm sure it'll turn up on DVD,sooner or later.
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lesser than the sum of its parts
gdsoul8 June 2008
I really wanted to like this. There's so much about it that I can admire - in theory. Great cast. Wonderful creative talent behind the camera. Attempted reclamation or reinvention of a troubled genre. But ultimately, it comes across as more of a wacky, fun concept to talk about than something meaningful, or even entertaining, to watch.

Usually with musicals, I'm willing to give character development a pass if the musical sequences are spectacular enough to entertain, but here we are treated to one-dimensional characters AND half-baked musical sequences. What another reviewer said about the way that pop songs function in the mode that many of us find them to in everyday life (comfort, support, encouragement, etc.) could have been true, but I think that reviewer is being far too generous. Granted, the song choices are great, but because I care so little for the characters or the situations that they find themselves in, I can't suddenly view them as three-dimensional beings that would need pop songs to help them cope. The choreography seems purposefully sloppy as well, which makes it seem like these characters don't even really care. Strangely, I find myself actually liking all these songs less than I did before I had seen them used in the film. (Ok, except maybe Dusty Springfield's rendition of "Piece of My Heart." She just can't be diminished.)

With that said, I do still hope that other filmmakers, even Turturro maybe, will reapproach the musical. ONCE was a great attempt last year, but with a very specific formula that would be hard to replicate. Something could still be done along the basic lines of ROMANCE AND CIGARETTES to better effect. However, this doesn't cut it.
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Bold, very bold but additionally very bad.
johnnyboyz17 March 2009
Let's be honest, there wasn't much romance in Romance & Cigarettes, was there? There wasn't really much of anything, bar a couple of dopey and un-enjoyable characters moping around about how 'down' they are or how regretful they are or how lonely they are or how they cannot communicate with anyone and how everything is horrible and terrible and life's nasty and it's all spiralling out of control. Fact of the matter is, the film is an hour and a half plus of big name actors and actresses dallying around feeling sorry for themselves beneath a facade of a study of love when really it's a daft exercise in how post-modern we can be with camera angles and musical numbers as we pretend to make a study of the complexity of relationships.

I really disliked Romance & Cigarettes; I disliked every eccentric, style-driven, often cringe-inducing minute of it for a number of reasons. The film was made by a man called John Turturro, who I've seen in a number of very good films and who has worked with a couple of America's more exciting contemporary directors; names such as Martin Scorsese, Joel and Ethen Coen as well as Spike Lee. Trouble is, Turtutto is just an actor and, with only two prior directorial efforts credited to his name according to this site, it is advised he stick to acting in those small-but-very-noticeable roles in films that go on and garner much deserved attention. Clockers, Jungle Fever, Rounders and The Colour of Money spring to mind and it's quite feasible there are others out there I'm yet to stumble upon.

The film masquerades as a cheery and colourful study on life, love and the tribulations that these things entail when the fact you've been stupid enough to cheat on your partner catches up with you. But this film, like its makers probably would as well, tells us that its lead character's fling with another woman was some kind of 'natural drive' or some kind of "spiritual calling that drove the male onto another spiritual level that forced him into confronting his fears and desires and thus.......blah, blah, blah" You know what? Rubbish John Turturro, absolute rubbish – you're a good actor at playing those snotty and wormy characters you often get in crime driven films (Miller's Crossing stands out in memory) but your style as a director completely masks the fact you're making a film about idiots, making idiotic and ill advised decisions under a pretense of something deeper.

So if the director's out of his element then the cast additionally follow suit with a string of musical numbers done really badly that might completely miss the target in the sense people will find the bad singing and eccentricity of the pieces 'funny' more so than they will find what it is they're actually singing about quite humbling; which is what they should be feeling given the themes of loss of love and despair held within the songs. But the film itself is built around James Gandolfini's character named Nick Murder and his life which is balanced around working as some sort of maintainer of bridges with his buddy Angelo (Buscemi); his life at home with wife Kitty (Sarandon) and their three daughters while lastly, an elusive affair with Tula, in what is an image shredding role for Kate Winslet, given her prior work.

I mean, the film is rubbish. It masquerades as this post-modern and energetic look at love and the dilemmas when you feel for two people and the moral choices that accompany it. No it's not; it's about a bored, working class American slob who's just not getting enough action, isn't satisfied enough and plays around a bit on the side for his own amusement. Very early on, there's a musical number that would-be about loneliness and general confusion as the morality of the situation looks to sink in but all the women wear pretty, quaint revealing costumes and we get certain close ups of certain areas the women possess and you begin to have this sick, dirty realisation that this is what everyone's more interested in. I mean, essays and books have been written about how cinema is constructed for and around a male perspective but this just sticks two fingers up at all of that and says "So what!? We're going through with it anyway!"

Twinned with this is an annoying little subplot about equally annoying people, those being Nick and Kitty's three daughters Constance (Parker); Rosebud (Turturro) and Baby (Moore); whose full name is rather disturbingly 'Baby Murder', and their band that they try to get going which is flagging as each day goes by what with their horrid, annoying guitar and piano playing and singing – I know it's done badly on purpose but who on Earth thought it might be funny? Who actually finds it amusing? I read afterwards that the 'Moore' that plays Baby is a certain Mandy Moore, a singer and good God – why, oh why would you accept a role in a film in which you play a really bad musician if you're a musician yourself – perhaps she hadn't been selling many records, maybe the cash situation was low.

So in short; it's a disaster – Angelo plays the Jiminy Cricket/conscience role that pops up and offers Nick tidbits of advice whenever the film feels he needs it, which is a bit silly. There's a little plot twist later on that leads the film off down another route towards supposed redemption (which is what the makers would tell you it's about) but it's very silly and bails the film out in terms on needing resolution. All in all, rather a large and silly mess made by someone who has worked with, arguably, the best but is far from those persons' respective level.
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Great Cast Stranded in a Lame Movie
evanston_dad5 May 2008
John Turturro's terribly uneven film ranges from the fairly imaginative to the downright horrible. Much of the film reminded me way too much of the worst traits of certain Coen brothers movies: too grotesque, too jokey, too enamored of its own charm. There are moments that come close to saving it, but overall this film is a big disappointment.

Set in no particular time period (present-day cars mingle with 1960s pompadours), this quasi-musical tells the completely dispensable story of a big oafish lout (James Gandolfini, so physically disgusting for so much of the movie that I actually got tired of simply looking at him) who cheats on his wife (Susan Sarandon) with a crass harlot (Kate Winslet, bringing the movie a burst of energy) and then feels bad for it. Big deal. This exact same story could be told by anyone about anyone in any number of ways, so why should we care about this particular man and his particular story? Well, Turturro doesn't answer that question, which is the movie's biggest flaw.

The film veers all over the place in tone. For its first two-thirds, it doesn't take itself seriously at all -- every musical number is a pastiche. Then it lurches into tragedy for its final half hour and ends on a downer note completely at odds with anything else that preceded it. Turturro gathers a large and talented cast, and then wastes most of it. The film sticks too closely with Gandolfini, who isn't interesting enough to hold our interest, and completely ignores all of the marginal characters that bring pizazz to the story. Actors like Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Walken and Mary-Louise Parker simply drop out of the movie without making the slightest impression, while we're stuck following around boring schmuck Gandolfini while he mopes and moans.

I guess Turturro deserves some kudos at least for creativity, but little else about this movie deserves your time or energy.

Grade: D+
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I kept waiting for it to get better - it didn't
mimithomas12 December 2007
This is a movie that THINKS it's funnier than it is. The characters have no depth whatsoever, the dialog is senseless. I didn't know why any of the characters were saying what they were saying most of the time. It felt like a first-time effort by a less than adequate writer. I enjoyed Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken and Aida Turturro's performances. Had it not been for them I would have walked out in the first half hour. And what was Mandy Moore doing in this movie? The cast is what attracted me but few gave a performance they'll want anyone to remember. As I was watching I was trying to figure out if the writer/director was to blame for such a good cast doing such a poor job or if the movie was just completely miscast and would have been better with different actors. I've yet to draw a conclusion. What a mess.
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pretentious and not engaging
vanessa_mcculloch8 October 2006
I think that people like this movie -or say that they do- because they don't want to slate an art-house film and appear to be a philistine. I was so bored after the first 45 minutes or so, that I turned it off. I was completely uninterested in the fate of any of the characters -most of whom seemed to be terribly contrived. I am amazed that a film with such a great cast could be such a disappointment.

I just don't see what this film had to offer: it was not outstanding in any way (except the cast list, as previously stated). Characterisation was unconvincing (as previously stated); plot was not sufficiently engaging; setting added nothing to the overall effect.
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Sadly, average at best...
thihihi26 March 2006
This movie proves that having a good stylistic idea for a movie, doesn't mean that movie should be made... A lot of great comical sequences (you have got to love Christopher Walken in this one!), but not a great movie. Seems unstructured and amateurish. Sad, because the idea of a blue collar musical is good, but the story is just too skinny and it seems that the movies is a compilation of good ideas for scenes, instead of one coherent movie. And no, the incoherence doesn't make it an art house movie, it just makes it a nice try. With a weak, weak story and stereotypical characters, which never become anything other that stereotypical. But fun at times, though.
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A bag full of wet farts.
chacmool-414 March 2008
Sometimes you watch a film and say..."Hmm, well this seems to suck but I did spend money on it so I'll give it a chance." Then at the one hour mark one might think, "I can't tell if this is the worst film I've ever seen, or the worst film ever made. But I've invested an hour into it so I might as well keep watching" DON'T DO IT! Turn it off as soon as James Gandolfini starts singing whilst swinging around a porch-pole. Better yet, leave this tomato to rot in whatever compost heap is unfortunate enough to receive this colonic expulsion.

After seeing this "film" I spend three hours in the terlitt with violent and painful diarrhea. When I finished, and looked into the bowl, what I saw was eerily reminiscent of said cinematic turd. Obviously, my body rejected Romance and Cigarettes and rightfully so. It's like when you down a bottle of Kahlua after eating a kilo of Treat or similar "meat" product. You don't want to puke...but when you do, you feel SOOO much better.

Watching this made me long for such cinematic gold as; Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. Or, Howard the Duck. Perhaps a film starring Howie Mandell. I'd rather watch my parents F^*k.

Mr Turturro, what did I ever do to you?
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