Film Scouts Reviews


by David Sterritt

Actor turned director John Turturro celebrated blue-collar work in his first picture, "Mac," and in his new "Illuminata" he paints an unabashedly romantic portrait of the acting life, via the multifaceted story of sundry theatrical types plying their professions with varying degrees of joy, misery, and contentment. It's great to see Susan Sarandon looking as beautiful as ever in a marvelously diverse cast featuring everyone from Bill Irwin to Ben Gazzara to Rufus Sewell to Beverly d'Angelo to the great Christopher Walken to Aida Turturro and John Turturro himself. Also impressive are the movie's colorful scenic and costume designs, and its imaginative use of puppetry on a few occasions. All this said, however, the film's many elements never quite click into place the way they should, and neither the comic nor the somber high points work as effectively as I was hoping they would. There was considerable applause at the close of the Cannes press screening, probably indicating an enthusiastic reception by European critics; but I found the film more abstractly admirable than immediately enjoyable.

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