Friday, August 20, 2010

Tetro (2009)

Lovely, but unremarkable effort from Francis Ford Coppola about two brothers who reconnect in Buenos Aires. There are echoes of Rumble Fish in both the black and white visuals and the vague plot, with the younger brother escaping the shadow of his older brother while the older brother distances himself from their father. Vincent Gallo is the titular Tetro, the disillusioned, emotionally wounded older brother, and his soft-spoken, airy demeanor recalls Mickey Rourke's Motorcycle Boy; his unique acting style actually seems quite appropriate here, as Tetro is mostly an indecipherable, obtuse character. The other characters in the film are well played, but a little more stock: his Hispanic girlfriend is maternal and caring, while the younger brother is naiive and sexually awkward. The film, even more so than Rumble Fish, lives and dies on its gorgeous visuals. Coppola creates frames here that are among the most distinctive in his career, without his trademark high-budget ambitions. He uses color only in flashback, a device I have not seen before, but wholeheartedly embrace as a stylistic choice. And the use of his environment is lovely, with Buenos Aires seeming like a magical, unexploited location suitable for this story. But nothing ever happens in the story that is truly fresh or original, and while there are revelations and a narrative throughline, it is not a shred as captivating as the greatest of Coppola's earlier works.

Slightly Recommended to fans of Coppola's more indie-minded work a la Rumble Fish and Vincent Gallo. I got more than I expected, but based on what I'd heard, I expected nothing.

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