A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
How did one of the most magical films of the 2005 festival season become one of the hardest films of 2007 to see? John Turturro's "Romance & Cigarettes" is the real thing, a film that breaks out of Hollywood jail with audacious originality, startling sexuality, heartfelt emotions and an anarchic liberty. The actors toss their heads and run their mouths like prisoners let loose to race free.
The story involves a marriage at war between a Queens high-steel worker named Nick (James Gandolfini) and his tempestuous wife Kitty (Susan Sarandon), who has found a poem he wrote to his mistress (Kate Winslet), or more accurately to that part of her he most treasures.
After Kitty calls him a whoremaster (the film is energetic in its profanity), they stage a verbal battle in front of their three grown daughters, and then he escapes from the house to do -- what? To start singing along with Engelbert Humperdinck's "A Man Without Love," that's what.
He dances in the street and is joined by a singing chorus of garbagemen, neighbors and total strangers. What do I mean by "singing along"? That we hear the original recordings and the voices of the actors, as if pop music not only supplies the soundtrack of their lives, but they sing along with it. The strategy of weaving in pop songs continues throughout and is exhilarating, reminding me of Woody Allen's "Everyone Says I Love You."