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.