Romance & Cigarettes – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

John Turturro

Cast

James Gandolfini ………. Nick Murder
Susan Sarandon ………. Kitty
Kate Winslet ………. Tula
Steve Buscemi ………. Angelo
Bobby Cannavale ………. Fryburg
Mandy Moore ………. Baby
Mary-Louise Parker ………. Constance
Aida Turturro ………. Rosebud
Christopher Walken ………. Cousin Bo
Barbara Sukowa ………. Gracie
Elaine Stritch ………. Nick’s Mother
Eddie Izzard ………. Gene Vincent
Amy Sedaris ………. Frances
P.J. Brown ………. Police Officer
Adam LeFevre ………. Fruitman

The Movie

Some films don’t get released for wide consumption for a lot of reasons, but one you don’t hear too often is that a film is so out of left field that a particular audience isn’t being lined up for it. That’s what one could call Romance & Cigarettes, John Turturro’s writing/directorial opus. Featuring one of the year’s best casts, the film is markedly daffy and amusing on all sorts of levels. Part musical, part comedy and about 100 ways of goofy, Turturro’s third effort as director is about as zany as some of the characters he’s played.

Romance & Cigarettes follows Nick Murder (James Gandolfini), a blue collar worker with a penchant for poetry and cheating on his wife Kitty (Susan Sarandon) with Tula (Kate Winslet). After his amorous adventures are discovered, he’s confronted by his wife, daughter and his daughter’s punk rock band. So he does what any working stiff do after fighting with the women of his life: engage in an extended dance number singing Engle Humperdinck’s “A Man Without Love” with the neighborhood. Interspersed with songs, the film is a telling about a couple trying to redefine their relationship interspersed with large volumes of profanity, singing, dancing and a healthy dose of Steve Buscemi.

If the film sounds off the wall, that’s because it is. Anytime you get classically trained Kate Winslet as a sexpot and that’s not the most unique casting decision you know you’re in for something truly awful or truly magnificent. Credit Turturro for being able to keep a reign on his material; writing and directing gives him a crucial point to which to base everything on. He isn’t a main player in the film, either, which is a good sign to begin with. It would be easier to focus on himself if he was the film’s star and make it a vanity vehicle, but Turturro does the smart thing and lets a magnificently talented cast shine. The cast is just loaded with Christopher Walken, Eddie Izzard, Mandy Moore and a host of others who’re genuinely having fun on the screen. It’s refreshing to see a group of actors reveling in the absurdities of a film; you don’t get to see it all too often.

Romance & Cigarettes was never given a true release into theatres, and languished in post production for several years while details of a distribution deal could be worked out. While it may have not had the sort of release it should’ve, it’s destined to become a cult classic.

A/V QUALITY CONTROL

Presented in a widescreen format with a Dolby Digital presentation, the film has a terrific presentation. The film’s musical numbers come through wonderfully through the audio, separated quite well, and the film has enough unique looking visuals to make an impression on the video as well. For a film with a low budget production and values it looks like a major studio production.

The Extras

Making a Homemade Musical is a behind the scenes look at the film’s production. Featuring telephone commentary piped in from Sarandon and Winslet, the piece is a quick look at the film during production. Nothing of note is said.

Deleted Scenes come with introductions by Turturro as to why he cut them from the film. Most of them have reasons why and Turturro is surprising in his honesty as to why he cut them, mainly for story-telling purposes.

Previews for Slipstream, Revolver, The Good Night, Southland Tales, The Nines, Goya’s Ghosts, Season 1 of Damages, Across the Universe and Saawariya.

There’s also an Introduction to the film from Turturro.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Romance & Cigarettes
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

9.0
THE VIDEO

8.5
THE AUDIO

8.5
THE EXTRAS

5.0
REPLAY VALUE

7.5
OVERALL
7.0
(NOT AN AVERAGE)