Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Now showing at home: TETRO (R) 2009

Starring: Vincent Gallo, Alden Ehrenreich, Maribel Verdu, Klaus Maria Brandauer

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Genre: Drama

Tetro is a grand spectacle of a movie, masquerading as a small film in the early going.

18 year old Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich) looks up his estranged brother, Tetro, (Vincent Gallo) in Buenos Aires. Tetro, a once promising writer who hasn't lived up to his potential, has distanced himself from the family--for reasons that ostensibly have to do with their famous composer-conductor father--who is something of an amoral sh*t--and a tragic accident involving Tetro's mother. Bennie gets a tepid reception from his brother, but a hospitable welcome from Tetro's common law wife, Miranda, (Maribel Verdu) who was once the older brother's psychotherapist. Tetro is a haunted soul--a loose cannon ready to explode at the drop of a hat--and he freely takes his frustrations out on others, especially Bennie. When Bennie discovers an unfinished play Tetro has written, and has no intention of finishing, he surreptitiously tacks on his own ending and submits the play to a prestigious local festival.

Tetro, a vaguely autobiographical work from director Francis Ford Copolla, (his dad WAS a famous composer) slowly builds the tension between the brothers as Bennie attempts to rescue Tetro--flailing and kicking all the way-- from pissing away any more of his unrealized life. Is blood thicker than urine? That's the question to be answered as Tetro takes some fascinating detours into the world of quirky amateur theatre along the way. (And there's just enough nudity to keep those of us who get disappointed without some baring of the body along with the soul, engrossed.)

There are echoes of Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces here, and not solely because of the unexpected climax you won't see coming.

Vincent Gallo is effective as the loose cannon. You just have to look at him--whether he's in character or not--and something shouts PERSONALITY DISORDER at you.

And while Alden Ehrenreich is a newcomer, there's this deja vu feeling that we've seen him before, as he evokes a younger Matt Damon.

A haunting accordion/guitar flavored score from Osvaldo Golijov that senses just the right moments to fall in on, perfectly complements the rich visual feast that is Tetro.