By Mack Chico
Rated: Not available.
Release Date: 2009-06-11
Starring: Francis Ford Coppola
Country: USA, Argentina
Official Website: http://www.tetro.com/
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Meet Francis Ford Coppola 5.0: The Interesting Failure phase. Which certainly beats 4.0, the paycheck period of 1990s films like “Jack,” in which Robin Williams made the stretch of reverting to childhood. But “Tetro,” the second in Coppola’s new line of low-budget art films (following last year’s headache factory “Youth Without Youth”), is hard to take seriously.
In La Boca, the café quarter of Buenos Aires, a grimacing, unsuccessful writer named Tetro (Vincent Gallo) on the run from his own nonlegend is hunkered down with his girlfriend Miranda (Maribel Verdú) and working as a light man in the theater. He receives an unwanted visit from his younger half-brother, who works on a cruise ship and cherishes a mistaken view of the older sibling as a generous soul.
This movie will be remembered, perhaps, for the little brother, who is played by newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, an effortlessly appealing youngster who strongly resembles Leonardo DiCaprio.
Coppola, working in creamy black-and-white that suggests 1960s French and Italian films, wrote his own original screenplay for the first time since the 1970s. Opera is his inspiration — or possibly his infection — as he unloads an elaborate tale of celebrity, sexual revenge and family secrets that creep out of the expressionistic shadows.
The brothers, especially the older one, have been poisoned by the renown of their father (Klaus Maria Brandauer) and by the gruesome fates of their mothers.
The gorgeous look of this frazzled, fractured monster is enough to hold your interest, for a while at least, and Gallo radiates the appropriate level of crazy for his part.
Still, the more dramatic revelations and tragic inevitabilities that turn up, the harder it is not to laugh. Give credit to its maker for directing with an earnestness suggesting a pretentious 22-year-old. Having passed through the phases of Interesting Apprentice, Mad Genius, Chastened Bankrupt and Shameless Wage Slave, Coppola at 70 may be the world’s oldest student filmmaker.