Film, Drama
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For better or worse, Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Tetro’ feels like a movie unsullied by boardroom manipulation or test-screening fallout. It’s the first picture he’s written since ‘The Conversation’ in 1974 and it feels like a glimmering relic from his New Hollywood heyday. Some may see it as splicing the artistic fretfulness of Fellini with the poised opulence of Almodóvar, but in fact this is 100 per cent pure Coppola. Accept no substitutes.

Vincent Gallo lends his suitably spikey presence to the title character, Tetro, a hobbling, boho literary genius in exile. Holed up in Buenos Aires with doting partner Miranda (Maribel Verdú), he works as the lighting operator for a saucy tinpot burlesque show while trying to escape the Freudian nightmare of his upbringing. A visitation from his baleful younger brother Benny (newcomer Alden Ehrenreich – solid, if hardly a revelation) forces Tetro to attend to his severely knotted family ties as well as make a decision about what to do with the unfinished book that’s lurking on top of the wardrobe.

‘Tetro’ is a movie filled with splashes of brilliance rather than being a plain brilliant movie. Visually, it’s a joy to behold, with every monochrome frame (with the odd colour segment thrown in) arranged and lit with the eye of an old master. As a story, though, it doesn’t deliver the goods. A neatly illusive build-up segues regretfully into a series of soap-opera-like twists that appear to be entirely at the service of Coppola’s own grandiose philosophical intimations, which mainly regards the personal gains to be made from art and family. An imperfect gem, then, but a keeper for sure.

By: David Jenkins


Release details

Release date: Wednesday December 23 2009
Duration: 127 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenwriter: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Vincent Gallo
Alden Ehrenreich
Carmen Maura
Klaus Maria Brandauer
Maribel Verdu
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