Just before his 18th birthday, cruise ship waiter Bennie (Ehrenreich) gets some shore leave in Buenos Aires and immediately looks up his estranged brother Angelo (Gallo), a moody artist who now goes by the name Tetro and lives with his longsuffering girlfriend Miranda (Verdu). Their reunion is rather awkward, and it's not just because of the years that have passed and the tensions that remain around their relationships with their famous father (Brandauer). The problem is that Bennie thinks he can get Tetro back on track.
Shot in velvety black and white, the film looks magical and timeless. It's set in modern day, but harks back to the golden age of Fellini with its lively moods, vibrant personalities and an earthy mix of joy and sorrow. Gallo and Verdu give complex and sympathetic performances, and this is a strong break-out for Ehrenreich, who almost eerily resembles a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Side roles for the fabulous Maura (as a celebrity critic), Amigorena (as a vain theatre actor-director) and De la Serna (as a cafe owner with a stormy marriage) add texture, warmth and humour.
Coppola orchestrates the elements like a master, weaving in luridly coloured flashbacks and fantasy sequences that continually catch us off-guard. The sound mix is dense and very clever, and scenes are photographed through windows, mirrors and shadows to add perspective. What's most impressive is that, even with all of this indulgent artistry, the film never feels pretentious. Even echoes of Hitchcock and Dali are effortless.
That said, the plot stalls along the way, as Tetro stubbornly digs his heels in while Bennie drifts away and we learn more about their father and his brother (also Brandauer). But these melodramatic segments weave together for a vivid exploration of four men grappling with their identities and with living up to the early promise of their talent. Clearly this is something Coppola understands personally, and he brings this insight to the moving, inventive conclusion. Yes, the film is often rather bonkers, but it's also a thing of real beauty.
Run time: 127 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th June 2009
Box Office USA: $0.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $113.2 thousand
Distributed by: American Zoetrope
Production compaines: American Zoetrope, Zoetrope Argentina, Tornasol Films, BIM Distribuzione
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 71 Rotten: 29
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Producer: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenwriter: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Vincent Gallo as Tetro, Maribel Verdú as Miranda, Klaus Maria Brandauer as Carlo, Alden Ehrenreich as Bennie, Silvia Pérez as Silvana, Rodrigo de la Serna as José (as Rodrigo De La Serna), Erica Rivas as Ana (as Érica Rivas), Mike Amigorena as Abelardo, Lucas Di Conza as Young Tetro, Adriana Mastrángelo as Ángela, Leticia Brédice as Josefina, Sofía Gala as María Luisa (as Sofía Castiglione), Jean-François Casanovas as Enrique, Carmen Maura as Alone, Carmen Maura as Alone, Francesca De Sapio as Amalia, Ximena Maria Iacono as Naomi, Susana Giménez as Herself, Pochi Ducasse as Lili, Nora Elisabeth Robles as Naomi - Dancer, Pedro Arturo Calveyra as Carlo - Dancer, Mariela Noemi Magenta as Ángela - Dancer, Marcelo Fabio Carte as Tetro - Dancer, Guadalupe Docampo as (uncredited), Juliana Giambroni as (uncredited)
Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise. Along with...
With a spectacular setting and two solid actors on-screen, this thriller builds enough solid suspense...
Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to...
Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's...
Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...
Without a single moment of originality, this found-footage horror movie really deserves to be the...
An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs...