Sunday, July 25, 2021

Romeo is Bleeding

Movie Name:
Romeo is Bleeding
Year of Release: 1993
Director: Peter Medak
Starring: Gary Oldman, Lena Olin, Annabella Sciorra, Juliette Lewis, Michael Wincott, Roy Scheider, Will Patton, David Proval, Ron Perlman, Tony Sirico, Dennis Farina, Larry Joshua, James Cromwell
Genre: Drama, Crime
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Film Noir experienced a revival in the 90s, with a variety of titles coming out, which got even further enhanced with Quentin Tarantino's films which re-shuffled the conventions of the genre itself (for instance with Tony Scott's "True Romance").  "Romeo is Bleeding" ended up flying somewhat under the radar, even if it had a fantastic cast, but 1993 alone saw a variety of noir inspired films coming out, including John Dahl's "Red Rock West", Dominic Sena's "Kalifornia", Harold Becker's "Malice", Nicholas Kazan's "Dream Lover", to name but a few. The film follows the story of Jack Grimaldi, who is a police sergeant. He's been playing both fields, int the sense that while doing police work, he also provides a local crime boss by the name of Don Falcone, with the location of important witnesses, which threaten the crime syndicate itself. Jack is married to the lovely Natalie, lives in the suburbs, and tries to live a relaxed a life. He also has a girlfriend on the side by the name of Sheri, a young waitress who is in love with him. His arrangement is shattered to pieces when a new criminal pops in the scene, a Russian criminal by the name of Mona Demarkov. Mona is arrested, and Grimaldi is tasked with killing her. When he fails to do so, Falcone has one of his toes cut, and as the situation escalates, he frantically sends Natalie and Sheri away. As he plays a game of cat and mouse with Demarkov, he realizes she is both ruthless and will stop at nothing to get what she wants, including killing whomever is in her way.
Peter Medak, who has had a long career in both TV and cinema, including highlights such as "The Ruling Class" and also directing episodes of "Space 1999", was coming off the well received "The Krays" and "Let Him Have It" by the time he tackled Hilary Henkin's script for "Romeo is Bleeding". The film is successful in capturing the fall from grace suffered by the central character, but fails to deliver much in terms of who the female characters actually are and want. While Jack is rapidly defined as a corrupt cop with a good heart, the women he crosses paths with, end up being more of a manifestation of his wants/needs/fears, and not so much characters with their own existence. It's a film that definitely has the noir style perfectly captured, both stylistically and even narratively, with just enough eroticism and violence to fall under the guise of neo noir. While Gary Oldman is fantastic as usual, this time around he has to contend with a voracious performance from Lena Olin, who incinerates every single scene she's in, with a mix of sensuality, intelligence and danger. She truly brings her character to life, even if with somewhat limitedly information to share about who she is. She brings a sense of fun to all that she does, mixed with confidence, ruthlessness and intelligence. She is truly able to manipulate situations to best suit her needs, and therefore is the perfect embodiment of the noir vixen. There's a few over the top scenes (escaping in lingerie from a rather dramatic car crash), but she alone, with good support from Annabella Sciorra and Juliette Lewis, really bring the film to life, even if these two later thespians have very limited screen time. The cinematography from Darius Wolski is impeccable as is the score from the underrated Mark Isham. Entertaining and worth watching.