Romeo Is Bleeding is, as we, New Yorkers, used to call films like this, "a Pisser!"
“What is hell? Hell is when you should have walked, but you didn't. That's hell.”
It's not very often a film comes from way way out of left field and just blows me away, a film that actually holds interesting scenes knowingly long enough to allow you to drink them in. A film that lovingly caresses the essence of classic Film Noir, updates its violence conventions and very stylishly tells a picaresque tall tale that's so dangerously close to being over the top but yet is still believable enough to let it all roll. Romeo Is Bleeding is addictively compelling in the same manner that Sergio Leone re-imagined Westerns are, and you have to scratch your head and wonder what kind of opiate were the critics and the viewing public mainlining on when this accidental masterpiece of a film debuted. This has happened many times before not only in cinema, but even in the long history of the Fine Art world. Films that at first are panned and forgotten that finally through the filter of time get interpreted right.
|Jack/Jim in purgatory at The Holiday Diner, Nowheresville|
|Jack Grimaldi (Oldman)|
The narrated story revolves around the decent of NYPD Sergeant Jack "Romeo" Gramaldi into Noirsville. Jack's voice over narration while a throwback to classic noir is also unique, it's comprised of two voices, sometimes the present one the good Jim (aka repentant Jack), sometimes the bad Jack, and sometimes he listens to one head sometimes he listens to the other one.
|Back yard is up against a Maspeth cemetery|
...something that only your true love understands
that you can whisper to her in the night,
and hold her tight.
Jack looked just like anybody but inside he wasn't like anybody, he was going to do something about the dream. Jack supplies tips on the locations of safeguarded witnesses who will testify against the mob headed by Don Falcone. As Jack puts it he puts a quarter in a slot and $65,000 comes out of a PO Box. Better odds than Vegas. He takes the cash and feeds the drain hole he dug for it in the backyard of his Maspeth, Queens row house. Everything was going right until they started going wrong.
|Sal (Wincott) and Jack|
|Jack and Sal "like the Fall of Rome out there, the streets are filled with animals"|
|homage to For a Few Dollars More|
|Nick Gazzara (Farina) "Don't Lou make a nice fire?!"|
|Mona Demarkov (Olin)|
Mona, the Female of the species on the attack
|Jack the quarry|
|Jack - dead meat|
|a deer in the headlights|
|offering sex & money|
|Falcone like a Caesar|
|Don Falcone (Roy Scheider)|
|"I can have your wife made ugly, burn your house down, and have your girlfriend gutted ... and I may authorise it"|
|Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Williamsburg Bridge & J-Z-M line.|
|eight reflections spider-like|
|Noir-ish under the el|
|Jack watching Sal & Mona|
Nods to Sergio Leone - In this film the codes/conventions of Film Noir were amplified, much like Sergio Leone took the American Western, amplified its codes and mythologized it. But also picaresque-ly treats the voice over of Jack Grimaldi. There are a few direct homage shots & sequences.
|"you can dig one grave or you can dig two" homage to the end of |
The Good The Bag And The Ugly
Weaved throughout the film both the sound design and the excellent mood pieces that make up Mark Isham's score fit so well to the scenes and overlaps creating a total atmosphere that I again recall the great collaborations of Leone/Morricone, Hitchcock/Herman and Lynch/Badalamenti. The acting is top notch every aspect of the film works amazingly well. This is a hardcore/hardboiled Neo Film Noir about melancholy and regret. Upon multiple re-watches 10/10
If you don't own this buy it now!.