[image-4]Published February 21, 2008.
Romance & Cigarettes
In Romance & Cigarettes Bo (Christopher Walken) tells his story of life with his ex, Roe, by belting out and pantomiming Tom Jones’s “Delilah.” “I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more,” sings Bo, stabbing Roe. As a standalone number, it works: the choreography’s great and Walken gives a characteristically enthusiastic performance. But then, the song ends. We learn Roe’s not dead. We still don’t know anything about Bo or Roe, and we’re left wondering why exactly we just watched Walken deliver “Delilah.” The rest of the film similarly captivates and confuses. Director (and fine actor in his own right) John Turturro has assembled an impressive cast to bring his pop-inflected musical to life: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet and Steve Buscemi sing and dance their way through songs like Springsteen’s “Red-headed Woman” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Prisoner of Love.” It’s all in aid of the story of a schlubby husband (Gandolfini) who’s enchanted by a foul-mouthed temptress (Winslet) and cheats, only to be found out by his wife (Sarandon). Though fun, the musical numbers can’t hide the film’s mess of ragged plot threads. One gets the feeling Turturro crafted elaborate backstories in his head, then forgot to share them with us.