(four stars for thespian
Starring: Brenda Blethyn, James Franco, Mena Suvari, and Harry Dean
Directed by: Nicolas Cage
Complete film review below
Review Site Extras:
speaking? Author John Carlen has abstrusely captured that struggle of one
man simply trying to be human in nonhuman, vile, circumstances. No apologies,
no therapy twice a week to explain their choices or personal demons. He shows
how what's an abhorrent way of life for one, simply is for another. They
are rough at the ridges and that's just the way they was bred.
The film brutality blended a tale that sparks of Williams, O'Neill and Rabe. The
all-American family cliché is kicked in its ass as we get a glimpse into
what really goes on in one odd family unit's dwelling in the seedier part
of town... Love it.
goes...Sonny (James Franco) has just come home from the army. We watch as he saunters
through obviously familiar streets in the famous French Quarter. He doesn't look
like a boy-man keen on rushing home though. He hints of dread.
takes a deep breath and enters his mother's home. His mother is a flamboyant bit
of tacky tarty "other" southern-style belle. Jewel (Brenda Blethyn)
falls all over the boy but you instantly get the feeling her joy with him being
home is partly a mother's natural high and partly shrewd businesswoman. She is
hot to have Sonny get back into the family business. Sonny thinks he'd rather
go work at a bookshop owed by a pal
start to see the sinister selfish love of Jewel as she manipulates those in her
den of ill repute. Jewel is an older call-girl-turned-madam who "personally"
trained Sonny in the works of rollin' in the romper room for play-dough that'll
buy you goods. Yech. Ah, but Sonny has been bred into this "lifestyle"
of pleasing others for cash. He doesn't hate his mother as you'd suspect, but
feels obligation to make sure she's taken care of, like any good son.
dearest also has a guy pal, Henry (Harry Dean Stanton), that hangs around all
the time too. He's a kindly old laggardly fella that protects his own and would
- in an instant and with a sly wicked wink - gut you in the street for your wallet;
nothing personal mind ya.
what's this? A new pixie doe-eyed gal is working for mom? You can almost hear
the porn music being cued as Carol (Mena Suvari) meets Sonny. They start a strange
sweet relationship that is so surreal it works.
Sonny has a secret desire to live among the "squares.' He goes out on a date
with a "normal" girl and is sweetly awkward in normal courting methods.
Later he is taught that age old lesson that things are not always greener in the
weedless perfectly coifed suburban side of the picket fence. Poor kid.
root for Sonny, though in our hearts we feel this guy's long drown in his abyss
of self doubt and irrevocably dejected after his brief attempt at "normalcy."
Underneath the licentious looking glass-like lens Cage has shined on the film,
Sonny is ultimately a touching love story and self-discovery piece. But
like the rat that knows his all-empowering cheese is waiting at the end of the
maze, he's grown indifferent after his multiple dead-ended attempts at making
it to the heavenly cheese have proven useless, and he now sits content to starve.
is brutally honest - always. These delightfully animated (and gritty) characters
are wholly developed and filled with breath thanks to the remarkable insightful
direction of Nicolas Cage (yes, that Nick Cage) and
his incredibly brave and talented cast. The film leaves the big whitehead blemishes
and that oh-so-real life-faults beautifully intact and serves them up in a "doesn't
everyone have a cousin like this? No? "- way. It's a painting of a family
actually, oddly, filled with love in their own twisted reality way. I adored this.
James Franco gives incredible face; so descriptive -
alert - telling. His subtle rippled performance is definitely a throw back to
the old greats before him where a glance is way better then pages of descriptive
dialog. Meanwhile, Jim's "rude boy" gorgeous now, but a tad young! Yes,
yYoung but already holding developing trademark smirk and oozing that rare cargo
of pure man heroin cut with the everyday Joe troubled guy.
Blethyn is electric. Her Jewel is like Medusa and you get the feeling as much
as she loves Sonny he's nothing more than a wide-screen TV piece of property;
precious for what he's worth to her, and what he cost her - now she expects years
of colorful, trouble free performance from him.
Survari is this little waif of a thing with a huge brain. She could slip into
girly-girl roles and make a gigantic living playing the American
Pie-like character till she's eighty. Instead at the height of her hype
she chooses a mature, deep, wildly brave role. Women don't get a ton of these
smart layered shindigs thrown their way. Mena obviously doesn't want to paint
herself into some studio corner. Bravo!
Dean Stanton just walks on film, effortlessly shags out a few words and slips
off for a cig and bourbon - the Keith Richards of Actors. What's he been in 17624561
films? Love this guy.
Cage has a cameo as a gay pimp that's...um....er....well...weird. He's
polar opposite of the rest of the cast and suddenly there are these artsy filters
askewing our perception ( because Sonny's wacked we are seeing it as he sees it).
Yech. It was a pinch (read: completely ) over the top and almost ricocheted the
film away from believable land. Luckily his wacky SNL like character had very
little screen time and ultimately left us all with nothing more than a brief chuckle
at its absurdity.
line, Nicolas Cage (who's aging like a fine early season bottle of Coppola Merlot)
and his partner at Saturn Productions, Norm Golightly have again produced a masterpiece;
a great feat considering their last offering was Shadow
of the Vampire. It's not for everyone - it's not one for the kids and
but, if you dig thespians giving tough material a whirl and dialog
that sounds as if you've woken up in the closet of the character's home, you'll
really dig this film - like me. So it's four stars for the thespian addicts and
honestly a three and a halfer for heavy dark film lovers (excluding mention of
the Cage Cameo Faux Pas).
Snack Recommendation: Antoine's Crème Brulee and switchblade sliced
Tuna tar tar