>Romance & Cigarettes (2006) Dir: John Turturro

Hairy, uncouth, vulgar, Cro- magnon New Yawk males singing their bleeding hearts out in crack character actor John Turturro’s magnificent, under-rated working class musical.

A strange, fiery breed of Dennis Potter-esque musical numbers, raunchy comedy and Cassavetes style melodrama, Romance & Cigarettes doesn’t entirely work but is pulsating with life, vitality, a joie de vivre that is nigh on impossible to resist.

The film contains several outstanding numbers performed in the main by actors who can’t really sing to save their lives but this only adds to the movies rough and ready charm whilst emphasizing the importance of music in the everyday lives of ordinary people; how the ridiculously out sized emotions of a corny three minute ditty such as Engelbert Humperdinck’s version of  “A Man Without Love contains the repressed romantic longing and buried, broken dreams hidden within the lumbering, unsophisticated working man.

Characters fight, fuck, argue, dance, sing and laugh about life, love and sex in a frank and earthy manner that is refreshingly honest, more Italian than American; a brash comic opera that deals with the messiness of life in all it’s imperfect glory.