Romance and Cigarettes - Warning: Smoking Causes Cancer
| About 5 minutes into John Turturroís trippy, lip-synching, blue-collar musical, I knew that I was going to enjoy this crazy rideÖ and I knew that I would be in the small minority who did.
Romance and Cigarettes is not for everyone. Youíve got to be fairly open to the trip this takes you on. Most will not be because it diverges so far off the path of the normal musical, let alone normal film. However, if you can stomach it, it can be worth it.
Simply put itís the story of the love and anger between a volatile working-class couple who played by Sarandon and Gandolfini. Along the way, they break into song, but not as in a normal musical, usually singing along with the radio or what ever other musical source is present. The songs, which are all classics, are interrupted for other scenes. The singers canít always sing and often they canít dance either.
What I enjoyed about this is how Turturro emphasises the absurdity of the musical genre by taking the musical numbers so out of a familiar context. It made it interesting. The film doesnít move forward in logical progressions. Often we are treated to remembrances, dream sequences, fantasies with little warning or perspective. Itís the kind of film that a passive movie goer will get frustrated with because it requires your focus and attention.
When the film works it hits some pretty high notes. There are scenes of real passion and power here along with random, almost insane scenes. The cast is cast without regard to the age of the character they are playing. Turturro doesnít go as far as Von Trier in Dogville in terms of taking his audience out of the myth of movie making, but he pushes it pretty far. He also has his characters speak in filthy, sexually charged language that will make many audiences uncomfortable.
If you can open your mind to this trip, you may just enjoy it, so inhale deep but be warned, itís not for the faint at heart.