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He was between a rock and a hard place.
on 30 March 2013
Romeo Is Bleeding is directed by Peter Medak and written by Hilary Henkin. It stars Gary Oldman, Lena Olin, Annabella Sciorra, Juliette Lewis and Roy Scheider. Music is by Mark Isham and Gary Alper and cinematography by Dariusz Wolski.
Oldman plays corrupt cop Jack Grimaldi who does favours for The Mob in exchange for considerable payments. He has a loving wife and a mistress, but even that can't satiate his lust leanings. So when he is assigned to babysit Russian hit-woman Mona Demarkov (Olin), he is soon up to his neck in sexual yearnings. Something which spells trouble for everyone...
A box office flop and savaged by some pro critics, Romeo Is Bleeding is clearly not a film for everyone! Yet for those who like their neo-noir sprinkled with satire and Grindhouse flavours, it's definitely the film for you. It's possible that some folk just didn't get it, that it has its tongue firmly in its bloody cheek? While some of the charges of misogyny and it being a macho fantasy are kind of moot given it's written by a woman! Undeniably it is guilty of going too far over the top, where as it cheekily laughs at itself it forgets to rein itself in, a problem since the finale is surprisingly touching but difficult to accept given the carnage previously.
Sleaze and Greed.
The trajectory of story is classic noir. Hapless corrupt copper Jack Grimaldi loves his wife but finds it easy to cheat with other women. Once the incredibly sexy Mona Demarkov slinks into his view, he's in big trouble. Add in The Mob after him due to not carrying out a "hit" and you get a noir protagonist spinning towards misery. Grimaldi narrates in snatches to keep the mood simmering on desperation, while visual smarts like a triplicate mirror image - or a scene at a amusement park - further enhance the noir atmosphere. While Olin's Demarko has to rank as one of the most potent femme fatales to steam up the screen.
Superbly performed by the principal actors and backed up with solid support, film doesn't lack for quality in that department. And with Wolski's photography and Isham's music also leaving indelible marks on the sleaze and greed mood, tech credits are impressive. If only Medak had not tried to take too bigger a slice of cake then this would be talked about as a neo-noir classic. As it is, as appendages are lost and the pulses raised, this still plays out as a disgustingly sexy, weirdly off-kilter and bloody fun piece of film. 7.5/10