Rating: R for language, nudity and adult situations
Run Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
Towne’s moldy ode to Depression-era
Steamy womanizer Colin Farrell plays struggling novelist Arturo Bandini, the moody son of Italian immigrants who is “ignorant of women and life and afraid of both”. It just doesn’t fly.
Arturo pecks away at his novel and his dwindling rent money while dreaming of fame, fortune and beautiful blondes. When they fail to materialize he falls for lusty Mexican waitress Camilla Lopez (Salma Hayek), who longs to marry above her station and shed her trashy roots for good.
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Forced to forget Camilla (while I’m hard-pressed to understand why he doesn’t cut to the chase and bed her) Bandini hooks up with a strange but compelling stranger (Idina Menzel) who may be familiar from a distant fever dream. Said stranger is sadly disfigured but that doesn’t stop Bandini from finally making his move. A tête-à-tête that predictably ends in tragedy.
Farrell generally packs cinematic heat but even his Irish cha-cha-cha can’t overcome a minimalist melodrama that’s badly frayed at the seams and threatening to unravel. 1930s clichés butt up against subtle suggestions of depression and drugs and the decaying romance of literary noir. Only the conceptual broken dreams of Fante’s autobiographical novel are awash in sentimental sepia-sunshine.