Monday, June 13, 2011

True Love

Nancy Savoca, 1989 (8.0*)
Grand Jury Prize, Sundance
This is a small story with no pretensions, and not really any action either, just a story of two Italian Americans in the last few days leading up to their wedding. Ron Eldard plays a typical male, who'd rather go out drinking with his buddies "one last time" (that becomes again and again) than prep for the wedding. Annabella Sciorra steals the acting kudos as his fiance, who begins to suspect that he may be getting cold feet the closer the actual day gets. I really enjoyed her performance in this, she's an underrated Italian beauty in my opinion. Eldard is usually better (always later, this was early in his career), especially in the war film When Trumpets Fade; he just doesn't seem very Italian here (blond hair didn't help) - where was John Turturro I wonder?

This is likely going to be more enjoyable for women than men, the men are fairly weak characters, the women stronger ones (heck, that's kinda accurate for life, isn't it?). It also makes a few assumptions about this particular ethnic culture being a little familiar with viewers, which it really should be.

Presented as a 'comedy', that's not really accurate (that scene on the dvd is staged, it's not even in the film!) - it's a drama about love, marriage, and personal commitment, filmed with affection and humor, but the entire slant of the film is a serious look at what makes families and happy (and unhappy) couples, as there are all types around the betrothed. Personally I liked Savoca's non-judgmental approach, and how she showed relationships affected by jobs and the church as well, which felt very accurate based on my own experiences.

Some say "slice of life" is a phrase that kills movies - if it does for you, then this won't be your cup of tea, but otherwise this is another good film by a female director, and one with nothing untasteful. Imagine an Italian-American film with no bloodshed, no sex, no bathroom humor! What the heck happened here?

This small indie romance impressed the critics and festival juries more than the fans at IMDB, who only rate it 6.1, but it's much better than that. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance (and four awards overall) and the Grand Prize at the USA Film Festival, and a nominee for three Indie Spirit Awards: Best Feature, Nancy Savoca for best director, and Annabella Sciorra for best lead actress.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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