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Romance and Cigarettes (2007)


Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 60
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 28

Critics Consensus: This movie musical aims for fun and modern, but Romance and Cigarettes is too scattered and uneven to achieve either.

Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 22
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 7

Critics Consensus: This movie musical aims for fun and modern, but Romance and Cigarettes is too scattered and uneven to achieve either.


Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 9,668




Movie Info

Actor and filmmaker John Turturro wrote and directed this emotionally resonant blend of music and drama. Nick Murder (James Gandolfini) is an ironworker who has been married for years to Kitty (Susan Sarandon), who works as a seamstress and is the mother of Nick's three daughters. While Nick loves his wife, his head is turned by Tula (Kate Winslet), a sexy salesgirl at a lingerie shop, and soon they're having a passionate affair. When Kitty finds out about Nick's infidelity, she becomes enraged … More

R (for sexual content including some strong dialogue, and language)
Romance , Musical & Performing Arts , Art House & International , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
John Turturro
In Theaters:
Feb 5, 2008
Box Office:
Boroturro - Official Site



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Critic Reviews for Romance and Cigarettes

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (28) | DVD (9)

In a season seasoned with off-beat originality in the movies, from Lars and the Real Girl to I'm Not There, you still have not seen anything quite like John Turturro's extraordinary Romance and Cigarettes.

Full Review… | January 3, 2008
Top Critic

How weird is John Turturro's Romance & Cigarettes? Almost indescribably weird, though also strangely involving.

Full Review… | December 21, 2007
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Romance and Cigarettes is a dark-red valentine to the way that pop music gets under our skin.

Full Review… | December 14, 2007
Seattle Times
Top Critic

It is not every musical that features lung cancer and James Gandolfini singing along with Engelbert Humperdinck to that every-day-I-wake-up 1960s standard 'A Man Without Love.'

Full Review… | December 6, 2007
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

While it looks like it was great fun to film, it's regrettably little fun to watch.

Full Review… | December 6, 2007
AV Club
Top Critic

This singing-along-to-the-radio effect has a dingy charm that honors the blue-collar Italian setting, yet Turturro spoils it by turning the movie into a hip star party.

Full Review… | December 6, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Romance & Cigarettes wears thin, like a moral for the titular addiction: Sure, there's the sweet dream of that first drag, but a whole pack'll do a body bad.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Austin Chronicle

When it succeeds, it soars with great abandon, and when it fails, it fails so grandly that we still want to applaud it. This is a madhouse of a movie.

Full Review… | February 18, 2008

It shouldn't work, but there's something beautiful in Turturro's non-judgmental, almost affectionate, exposure of human love as the courting dance of clueless primates

Full Review… | January 29, 2008
I.E. Weekly

The film has an overall tonal inconsistency and suffers from the occasional bout of tin-ear-itis, which ultimately derails this sometimes interesting attempt at reinvigorating the genre.

Full Review… | December 31, 2007
Apollo Guide have not lived till you've seen Walken belt out a Tom Jones tune.

Full Review… | December 21, 2007
OC Weekly

It takes us on a unique, passionately committed journey.

Full Review… | December 21, 2007
Los Angeles Daily News

John Turturro has crafted a truly unique American musical worthy of the Coen brothers' executive producer credits.

Full Review… | December 20, 2007

One of the most inventive, surprising and challenging American films of 2005. Pity that it's 2007.

Full Review… | December 13, 2007
Antagony & Ecstasy

A step away from Springtime for Hitler -- a classic awful.

Full Review… | December 13, 2007
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

I found myself smiling with bafflement for most of the film, mostly enjoying the unorthodoxy of the whole thing.

Full Review… | December 12, 2007

An ambitious experiment, it's not entirely successful, but it's easy to admire.

Full Review… | December 7, 2007
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Romance and Cigarettes is a clever idea, poorly executed.

Full Review… | December 7, 2007
The Deadbolt

A cheerfully bizarre delight for anyone open to its decidedly off-beat charms.

Full Review… | December 6, 2007

Any film that features an entrance by Christopher Walken strutting down a driveway to Elvis Presley's Trouble merits attention.

December 5, 2007

Audience Reviews for Romance and Cigarettes

I love John Turturro so it really pains me to report that he misses the mark quite badly with this film - it's not a terrible film but it is pretty bad compared to how it should have turned out. I loved the acting - Gandolfini & Winslet in particular, I loved the singing and dancing - an unexpected surprise and I loved the way it was directed, very cool and stylish. It's just that the story drags like a one legged horse, yes its surreal non-liner narrative was interesting and fun in parts but for the most part it was frustrating, silly and not particularly entertaining. I really don't like writing bad things about this film, I guess because I like everyone involved and I really wanted to like it.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer


In agreement with Jim Hunter, unless you're Paul Thomas Anderson, having actors sing along with a recording of a song IS "remarkably lame." And especially since so much of Turturro's spoken dialogue has such intriguing rhythms (Kitty's "deep" poem), he should have gone the extra mile and hired a real composer. As is, the songs aren't as thematically relevant as the ones in, say Singin' In the Rain or Moulin Rouge, exemplars of this musical subgenre in which popular songs are put into a movie instead of originally written for it.

Kate Winslet though. Man, has she got that va-va-vavoom! Love her trashy accent, her trashy dancing, her trashy talk.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

An adulterous man deals with his unpredictable mistress and vengeful wife ... with songs.
When I read the basic genre details about this movie, I was excited to see John Turturro's audacious musical, but I hardly consider this a real musical. After all, almost all the actors, with the exception of Mandy Moore, sing along with a recording of the song. Am I the only one who sees this as remarkably lame?
Structurally, this film is a mess. We are introduced to the offending mistress way too late into the film, and when we're meant to feel for her and suspect that she has true feelings for the adulterous man, it's too late for us to have any emotional attachment. Likewise, the subplots involving Mandy Moore's character and Cousin Bo's laments come in too late so that they seem like diverging storylines, not foils nor a complete exploration of the main characters' lives.
Overall, the plot of Romance and Cigarettes seems like as if everybody in the neighborhood had an idea, and every idea found its way into the script with little coherence.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Imagine,if you will, a college film school assignment to create a modern day musical ground in the late 50's and early 60's. Imagine if the student putting together such a film was able to pull in some serious heavy hitters, from Gandolfini and Walken, to Surandon and Winslett. Imagine the possibilities... I'm sure that somewhere in time, worlds collide and a film like this gets made - in part genious, in part juvinile hackism, in part serious drama and in part farcical over the top fun. Thus I give you Romance and Cigarettes, which prooves that John Turturro probably smoked too much pot in college - yet holds within it something almost magical.

Garbagemen dancing to "A World Without Love" probably says all you really need to know - it's brilliant, but at the same time it's almost laughably obvious that someone is yanking your chain *wink, wink*.

Christopher Walken channeling Elvis and then later crooning along with Tom Jones on Dalilah. Susan Surandon grooving along with the Dusty Springfield version of "Piece of My Heart", while Eddie Izzard backs her up on church organ - all you can say is "wow", especially when the tune switches into the Joplin version, with Surandon howling like a cat in heat.

Through it all there are so many things that just don't mesh and charactors who aren't fully developed. Wasted are Aida Turturro and Mary-Louise Parker, playing Surandon's children (although there is a humerous moment where they are in a girl band singing "I Want Candy" as Bobby Canaval strutts like a peacock (and his "Hot Pants" is hilarious).

Making it all worthwhile (aside from some very nice photography from the always stellar Tom Stern (see just about every Eastwood film ever made - Stern is always there), is a guttsy, no holds barred romp by Kate Winslett as the red headed embodiment of carnal love. She's bold and bawdy, with a wonderful accent - but when the film has to resort to a cat fight between Kate and Surandon - well, that just shows how wrong some of the choices were.

I'm sure that the principal actors had a ball with this, but really, the film can't be taken seriously, though I think that serious was somewhere in its resume.

An A for trying, a C in execution.

paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

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