Illuminata

on August 03, 1999 by Mike Kerrigan
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Multi-hyphenate John Turturro gathers a group of his enormously talented friends and lets them loose to chew the scenery in this wildly theatrical and very funny movie. It starts over the top--and just keeps going.
   The tale concerns a group of struggling thespians in a New York playhouse at the turn of the century. They are serious about their art but they are even more dedicated to games of seduction. One almost needs a scorecard to keep track of just who is pursuing who, and why. The result is a hilarious romp in a very stylish setting. And, amazingly, Turturro manages a wonderfully moving ending as Katherine Borowitz (the real-life Mrs. Turturro) speaks about love in a play written by Tuturro's character, her on-screen husband.
   Performan ces are all top notch. The group above is joined by Beverly D'Angelo, Rufus Sewell, Ben Gazzara, America's best physical comedian Bill Irwin and the luminous Georgina Cates, among many others.
   A few highlights include Walken sporting an Oscar Wilde hairdo, lipstick and eyeshadow and explaining to a horrified Irwin how he once kept a reluctant partner in a scissor-lock for a whole weekend;    rotund Leo Bassi's unique seduction technique--picking up a chest of drawers and juggling it with his feet; and Gazzara, in the midst of getting arrested for assault, doing an impromptu monologue from "The Tempest". The cops listen, enraptured, and then break into enthusiastic applause. And there's one line sure to amuse reviewers: A character is asked what he thinks of the new play. His reply: "One never knows what is good. That's what critics are for." Starring John Turturro, Katherine Borowitz, Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon. Directed by John Turturro. Written by Brandon Cole and John Turturro. Produced by John Penotti and John Turturro. An Artisan release. Comedy. Rated R for sexual content, nudity and language. Running time: 111 min.
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