Roseland Movie Review

Christopher Walken's appearance here -- in a very early role, a year before his breakout in The Deer Hunter -- is the primary (if not the only) reason to check out Roseland, which also happens to be an early Merchant-Ivory collaboration, too. Roseland is a movie about the eponymous New York dance hall, set in the 1970s (I'm estimating), and comprising three stories set in its cavernous environs.

Barely connected, the middle segment is Walken's -- cleverly titled "The Hustle" -- as he plays a gigolo working three different women, each with different needs and different issues. Walken hadn't created his signature speaking cadence yet, and it's shocking not only to hear him deliver lines in a relatively normal voice, but also with such a large pompadour. This is also Walken's first film where his masterful dancing is on display (see also 1981's Pennies from Heaven) -- and fans of "Weapon of Choice" will definitely want to check out a little vintage Walken high step here.

Oh yeah, and there are two other segments, as well. The first features Teresa Wright as a slightly nutty woman who sees her younger self (and possibly her dead husband) in a mirror in the club. The third is a somewhat morbid bit involving Lilia Skala, who loves dancing despite the fact that it could kill her. I could take 'em or leave 'em, as long as you keep the cowbell coming, if you catch my meaning.

Ivory's directorial skills are still a visible work in progress here. The film has the same distinct feeling as an episode of The Love Boat, with sloppy lighting, camerawork, and awkward editing. The story's a strange anomaly from this crew, but it's a hint of some of the outstanding work to come... even if none of it has Walken on the dance floor.


Comments

Roseland Rating

" OK "

Rating: NR, 1977

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