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Tetro (DVD Review)

28 Apr, 2010 By: Billy Gil

Street 5/4/10
Box Office $0.5 million
$27.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for language, some sexuality and nudity.
Stars Vincent Gallo, Alden Ehrenreich, Maribel Verdú.

Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro, about estranged brothers reuniting and the family secrets that reunion digs up, is a warm and resonant film that represents a return to form for the legendary director.

Vincent Gallo mugs around angrily as the film’s titular character, a failed writer living in Argentina with his beautiful wife, Miranda (Pan’s Labyrinth’s Maribel Verdú, dependably excellent), who wants nothing to do with his family. Of course, such things are easier said than done, and Tetro’s past and family catches up with him when his younger brother, Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich), shows up unexpectedly.

A sympathetic Miranda makes Tetro keep Bennie around. He adores Tetro and longs to re-establish a relationship with him. In doing so, family secrets are revealed regarding their father, a famous composer whose shadow Tetro can’t escape.

As Coppola reveals on the DVD commentary, Tetro is based loosely off memories and emotions the director has of his childhood, but its story is fictional: Coppola’s father is composer Carmine Coppola, who contributed music to the director’s films such as the “Godfather” trilogy, and Coppola’s older brother had a great impact on him. But in the spirit of magical realism, those seeds are then sowed in the luxurious setting of Buenos Aires, shot wisely in black and white, and Coppola explores his demons through a story that is only dark on the surface.

In reality, the film is funny, lively and a pleasure to watch, in no small part boosted by the naturalistic performance by newcomer Ehrenreich, whose great looks and easy manner should garner him no shortage of work. Though at times slow, the film’s relaxed manner suits its bohemian feel, and the result is a fantastic projection of one of our greatest director’s imaginings.

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