on November 22, 2002 by Ed Scheid
The only thing surprising about Abel Ferrara's latest is that it is such a routine view of urban crime from the director of "King of New York" and "Bad Lieutenant." The film takes place during Christmastime in New York in 1993 while David Dinkins was mayor and street drugs were more prevalent than today. A husband and wife (Lillo Brancato and Drea de Matteo, who both appear on TV's "The Soproanos") have a prosperous lifestyle including a private school education for their beloved daughter. It turns out that their comfortable life is financed by a secret drug-running operation. During a "business meeting," the husband is kidnapped and a gangster (Ice-T) demands a ransom from the wife.

Throughout, "'R-Xmas" lacks the intensity and raw emotions of Ferrara's best efforts. The predictable events in the script are staged with an unexpected absence of Ferrara's forceful visual style. The main characters are simply named The Husband, The Wife and The Kidnapper, emphasizing the disappointingly generic nature of the entire effort. Starring Lillo Brancato, Drea de Matteo and Ice-T. Directed by Abel Ferrara. Written by Scott Pardo and Abel Ferrara. Produced by Pierre Kalfon. A Franchise Pictures production. No distributor set. Crime drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 86 min.

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