Local Color (2006)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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A successful artist looks back with loving memories on the summer of his defining year, 1974. He befriends an elderly alcoholic genius painter who has turned his back not only on art, but on life. The two form what appears to be a tenuous relationship at first, between a student and master. The student wants to learn all the secrets the master has locked away inside his head and heart. But, time has not been kind to the old master and his life and work have lost their meaning. Over the course of the summer the student's enthusiasm and innocence rekindles the master's artistic passion. Together, they give one another a priceless gift. The student learns to see the world through the eyes of an artist, while the master remembers how to see past the ugliness in life and once again embrace the beauty. This story is based on a real life experience.
R (for language)
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Armin Mueller-Stahl
as Nicoli Seroff
Ray Liotta
as John Talia Sr.
Ron Perlman
as Curtis Sunday
Trevor Morgan
as John Talia Jr.
Diana Scarwid
as Edith Talia
Julie Lott
as Sandra Sunday
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Critic Reviews for Local Color

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (9)

Kriter-director George Gallo has given the stocky, ever-commanding Mueller-Stahl a heroic, bravura role and has been rewarded by the actor with a towering, complex portrayal that is surely among his finest.

Full Review… | July 31, 2009
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

For a purportedly autobiographical work, the events of this labor of love from director George Gallo, fit seamlessly into the fabric of the standard coming-of-age movie.

Full Review… | July 30, 2009
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

I suspect Local Color will lose those unfamiliar with the jargon and subtleties of the art world. Skip it.

July 6, 2009
At the Movies
Top Critic

Obviously a passio project for Gallo but he is never really able to translate that importance to the audience. We never really care or connect with these characters.

Full Review… | July 6, 2009
At the Movies
Top Critic

The sweeping landscapes look flawless, but missing from Local Color's canvas is any nuance in its human elements.

Full Review… | July 1, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

Beneath its layers of sentimentality Local Color means what it is says.

June 25, 2009
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Local Color


An amazing heartfelt autobiographical coming-of-age bio- drama written and directed by George Gallo, starring Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ray Liotta and Trevor Morgan in the lead role. It is based on a Gallo's experience when he was 18. The character of Nikolai Serov was based on George Cherepov, to whom Gallo had been an apprentice in the 1970s. Interesting part is that Gallo also painted all of the oil paintings in this movie, having "cleaned out his whole garage" of his paintings. In particular, the paintings that John (Trevor Morgan) showed to Serov (Armin Mueller-Stahl) when asking him for advice in the beginning of the movie were the exact paintings that Gallo as a teenager had showed Cherepov! The story of the young 18 year-old aspiring artist John Talia, Jr. (Trevor Morgan)- who is mostly misunderstood by his homophobic father (Ray Liotta) thinking that his son must be a homosexual because he enjoys drawing male nudes, was enlightening... real values against contemporary values of the 1974 New York! When John discovers that his idol, aging master, Nicoli Seroff (Armin Mueller-Stahl), lives nearby, he begs the old man to take him on as an apprentice. The invigorating young man has no idea that what he'll find is an embittered old alcoholic who has lost not only his enthusiasm for painting but for living. It is a movie which doesn't offer too much new, it is all very familiar and predictble but when we have an argument of old real values against contemporary questionable artworks, this doesn't count as a disadvantage. Cat Stevens songs are used to set the mood... and after that prepare yourself to see shades of the Karate Kid in Local Color, especially the mentoring-style of sensei Mr. Miyagi (who was also mourning the loss of his wife)! During the ensuing months, John is introduced to the intricacies of landscape painting by the troubled Seroff as well as the pleasures of romance with a beautiful neighbor (Samantha Mathis). Along the way, there are many passionate discussions about art, fueled by the presence of Seroff's argumentative art dealer friend (Ron Perlman). If you are an art lover, there is plenty to enjoy in this movie and beautifully photographed in widescreen to take full advantage of its gorgeously scenic Louisiana locations (substituting for Pennsylvania), the film is best appreciated on the big screen. In these suroundings it is impossible not to enjoy the sensitive performances by Morgan, Mueller-Stahl, and Diana Scarwid as John's empathetic mother.

Panta Oz
Panta Oz

Super Reviewer


This was a terrific film, based on a true story, concerning an untrained, struggling young artist who finds a mentor to help him understand what painting, and life, is all about. Marvelous performances from a wonderful cast that included Armin-Mueller-Stahl as the older, established and reclusive artist, Nicholai Seroff; Trevor Morgan as the young man, John; Samantha Mathis as Carla, a sad young woman who has faced a lot of tragedy in her life and who is friends with Nicholai; and Ray Liotta, Diana Scarwid, Charles Durning, and Ron Perlmen. The story was somewhat predictable and in some ways was quite similar in tone to Billy Elliot, with a father (Liotta) and mother (Scarwid) who don't understand thier son's passion, or his fascination with this older, Russian (and probably Commie), man who may or may not have ulterior motives in taking their son under his wing. But the excellent performances bring this off without resorting to stereotypes or to formula. Both men are landscape painters, primarily and there is some breathtaking scenery on display here. It was fascinating to watch the interplay between these two strong personalities, and to watch their relationship develop. The process of learning to "see" the world and to bring it to life under the brush was also fascinating. Ron Perlman was an absolute hoot as a pompous, effeminate art critic and dealer who was nevertheless friends with the great man. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

Another Independent Film from Monterey. Amin Mueller-Stahl plays his part nothing short of outstanding. This film is about a your art student who wants to study under the Russian Artist Nicholi Saroff, This is an excellent film based on a true story, John Talia spends the summer and develops a friendship with Saroff. Very Enjoyable 5 Stars

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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