Screening 7:00 pm Saturday, Sharonville Fine Arts Center

    Cinema Verite


Like Pedro Almodóvar before him, in Romance & Cigarettes director John Turturro has put theatricality and fantasy back into lust.

And lust is precisely what pulls James Gandolfini into the arms of his fiery mistress, Kate Winslet and then into deep trouble at home. The price of indiscretion – Hell hath no fury like his enraged wife Susan Sarandon – and what he ultimately comes to realize about fidelity and real love, form the backbone of a totally engaging and over-the-top film that is hilarious yet emotional and touching.

To further defy genre labels (and confound less astute reviewers), you'll encounter plot-driven spontaneous outbursts of song and dance. These are not gratuitously inserted "show numbers," but logical extensions of the characters' emotions. From Elvis to Janis Joplin to Irving Berlin to Bruce Springsteen, the music is diverse and works wonderfully and the ensemble cast is talented and marvelous.

This film is rated R for language and sexual situations. Warning for the faint of heart: As Roger Ebert put it, "the film is energetic in its profanity." Beyond some dicey language, you'll experience a terrific film unlike anything else you've seen !!

Cincinnati World Cinema first screened Romance & Cigarettes on February 12 & 13, 2008.   Special thanks this time arround to John Turturro, Richard Abramowitz and the folks at Squeezed Heart Productions for making this retrospective presentation possible.

Cast & Crew

Principal Cast
James Gandolfini ... Nick Murder
Susan Sarandon ... Kitty Kane
Kate Winslet ... Tula
Christopher Walken ... Cousin Bo
Steve Buscemi ... Angelo
Mandy Moore ... Baby
Mary-Louise Parker ... Constance
Aida Turturro ... Rosebud
Bobby Cannavale ... Fryburg
Eddie Izzard ... Choirmaster Gene Vincent
Elaine Stritch ... Nick's Mother
Amy Sedaris ... Frances
Barbara Sukowa ... Gracie

Principal Filmmakers
Directed by ... John Turturro
Written by ... John Turturro
Produced by ... John Turturro & John Penotti
Associate Producer ... Robin Gold & Laurent Lambert
Executive Producers ... Joel & Ethan Coen, Jana Edelbaum, Nick Hill, Matthew Rowland
Cinematography by ... Tom Stern
Film Editing by ... Ray Hubley
Casting by ... Todd Thaler
Production Design by ... Donna Zakowska
Art Direction by ... Mario Ventenilla
Set Decoration by ... Elaine O'Donnell
Costume Design by ... Donna Zakowska

The Music
[ Title ... performed by ]

A Man Without Love ... Engelbert Humperdinck
Delilah ... Tom Jones
El Cuarto De Tula ... the Buena Vista Social Club
Trouble ... Elvis Presley
It's A Man's Man's Man's World ... James Brown
Piece Of My Heart ... Dusty Springfield
Piece Of My Heart ... Janis Joplin
Piece of my Heart ... Erma Franklin
Prisoner of Love ... Cyndi Lauper
Red Headed Woman ... Bruce Springsteen
Scapricciatiello (Do You Love Me Like You Kiss Me) ... Connie Francis
The Girl That I Marry ... James Gandolfini & Susan Sarandon
Ten Commandments of Love ... Harvey & the Moonglows
Answer Me, My Love ... Gene Ammons
It Must Be Him ... Vikki Carr
Banks of the Ohio ... David Patrick Kelly & Katherine Borowitz
Hot Pants ... Bobby Cannavale
I Want Candy ... Mandy More, Aida Turturro & Mary-Louise Parker
I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now ... Aida Turturro
Quando M'innamoro ... Anna Identici
When the Savior Reached Down For Me ... the R&C Choir
Bach's Toccata and Fugue In D-Minor, ... Eddie Izzard
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John Turturro, Susan Sarandon, James Gandolfini & Steve Buscemi at the Romance & Cigarettes premiere, at the Film Forum NYC.  
Photo credit: Article & more photos here.


In his review (used with permission), cinema commentator Andrew O'Hehir (, sets up Romance & Cigarettes quite nicely:

"It's a peculiar blend of baroque fantasy and working-class realism; it veers from erotic farce to wrenching domestic drama; it's a musical comedy without a conventional happy ending; it's a love story about the most difficult kind of love, between two people who've been together almost forever and hurt each other almost irreparably. But all those things are also what make Romance & Cigarettes so great.

"It's a dazzling, bittersweet concoction, directed with verve and confidence ... If the roots of its story about a marriage gone sour lie deep in Turturro's childhood, I think only a filmmaker with the experience and perspective of a middle-aged family man could create something that's so simultaneously daring and compassionate.

"It's the most original picture by an American director I've seen this year, and also the most delightful.

"When the movie's protagonist, a softhearted, skirt-chasing New York bridge maintenance worker named Nick (played by James Gandolfini), comes out of his Queens bungalow for a smoke after a fight with his wife, at first he just stands there staring into the middle distance, like guys all over the world throughout eternity. Then he comes down off the porch, twirls around a streetlight with surprising grace, and starts to sing along with Engelbert Humperdinck's "A Man Without Love." Accompanied by a chorus of singing and dancing sanitation workers, kids on bicycles and random passersby. "It's one of the most exhilarating moments in recent American cinema, and Romance & Cigarettes is loaded with them.

"Susan Sarandon, who plays Nick's long-suffering wife, performs her own dynamite singalong version of Piece of My Heart, along with a church choir led by Eddie Izzard. Christopher Walken, as her Elvis-worshiping cousin, performs an all-singing, all-dancing dramatization of Tom Jones' infidelity-and-revenge saga Delilah that compresses the over-amped pathos of a Puccini opera into three minutes. And don't get me started on Kate Winslet's performance as the foulmouthed, oversexed lingerie-shop girl who threatens to wreck Nick's marriage.

"There's more hilarity, more sense of risk and more sheer filmmaking joy in Romance & Cigarettes than in roughly the last 157 indie pictures I've sat through. One way or another, Turturro's picture will make its own reputation, as eccentric works of genius always do. Some viewers will be thrilled, as I was, and I'm sure others will find its combination of sweetness and acidity bewildering. ...this is a once-in-a-lifetime underdog American classic ... Do whatever you have to do to see it."

Andrew O'Hehir has more to say about Romance & Cigarettes, John Turturro's childhood in an Italian-Catholic working class neighborhood, Turturro's concept of a "musical" stemming from Italian opera and the work of Dennis Potter, and the disgraceful way the film was locked away and held for $3 Million ransom. Read his entire article in Beyond the Multiplex at

Mr. O'Hehir has covered film for Salon since 1996, and written the indie-film blog Beyond the Multiplex since 2003. He has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Hollywood Reporter, Sight and Sound and other publications. He lives with his wife and two children in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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