The Florentine

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: John Stanley

Plot: What’s it about?

The Florentine is a film I found interesting for one reason before I rented it, the collection of talent in the cast. The movie is a drama and focuses on the lives and stories of an older group of friends that all revolve around this bar called The Florentine. Now before I even attempt to explain the film, ill have to go down the list of characters and who they are. Chris Penn (Reservoir Dogs, True Romance) plays Bobbie, a loan shark and bookie that could be considered the muscle or leader of the group. Although this is not a mob or crime focused film in anyway. Michael Madsen (countless “tough-guy with a gun” films) plays Whitey, he runs the Florentine and got the bar from his dad who won it in a game of poker years back. Luke Perry (90210) plays Frankie, who has always been the one to try and find the fast track to making money. He’s kinda the Ralph Kramden of the group, always coming up with ways to make a quick buck. Mary Stuart Masterson plays Vikki, Bobbies wife and best friend of Molly. Vikki is unhappy in her marriage, her husband is never around,hes either laying bets or collecting money ect. Virginia Madsen plays Molly, the bride which most of the story focuses on. Its Molly’s wedding soon and the man she once was in a relationship with split town without a trace. Which brings me to Tom Sizemore (True Romance, Strange Days) who plays Teddy Finn. Ol’ Teddy skipped town years back and now has strolled back in for lack of money or a place to live. I told you, lots of characters lots of twists. Now ill get to the two remaining characters and then ill try to piece together the story for all of you. James Belushi, who does not have a tie-in with any of the men plays Billy, a con-artist, cheat, swindler……you get the idea. And last but not least Joe McCollough played by Burt Young, “yo,paulie!” from the rocky films. Joe is the main man financially speaking and loaned Whitey about 12,000 over the years to keep the Florentine running.

Now each of these men has their own story’s and problems and most have tie-ins with the others. Frankie as the “quick buck” artist and Billy as the con-man….see the connections im trying to get at? Well, the movie is pretty dramatic and slow but is interesting and the talent of actors is what saves this film from the K-Mart $5.99 bin. The story of these people, how their lives change for the better, or worse and all primarily due to each other. I can say that 90% of this cast turns in an awesome performance and are all cast well. James Belushi makes a great con-man as does Luke Perry in his role of the gullible sap and Michael Madsen as the older, wiser bartender. Now the movie and dialog that goes with it are slow, no argument there, but its a good film for a few reasons. The cast obviously, Francis Ford Coppola’s producing, and the way the story unfolds. What I mean is the way each character plays on others strengths and weaknesses. Whitey is struggling financially due to the bars lack of draw and his sisters (Molly) wedding. Joe is wanting some pay off for the money he’s loaned Whitey over the years. Vikki’s struggle with her husband Bobbie, who is an ex-boxer turned bookie and couldn’t care less about anything besides last nights scores. Now Teddy (Sizemore) hasn’t been around for a while, he and Whitey were best friends and alter boys together. He comes back to town to find his old sweetheart getting married, Whitey hurting for money, and Frankie getting suckered into a dead end investment. While the movie itself is not a strong attention puller, it does do a good job of making you want to see resolve. The cast was great,the plot a little weak, but what stands out most from the “behind the screen” standpoint is the writing. I swear this film has some of the sharpest and quickest dialog and one-liners ive seen since Clerks. The kind of lines that you tell your friends after seeing the film. (some of them are that good). Overall a good movie,and a great cast. One to own? No. One to rent and worth your time? Yes.

Video: How does it look?

Full screen presentation and I wont complain too much because your really not missing much here. Most of the film is either after sunset or indoors so the colors are kind of bland and bla but it goes with the whole motif. Some bleeds (minor) and the dark-to-shadow separation is not all that great but there’s no pixilation and anyone who’s read my reviews before knows that’s like a steak through my heart on DVD.

Audio: How does it sound?

Dolby Digital and to be honest, just from looking at the cover and reading the back of the box I did not even turn my surround sound on to watch this film. Dialog driven, left to right separation did just fine. The movie’s sound is pretty good and the soundtrack has some cool tunes from Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Elvis Costello. Good sound,not great but average.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Trailer. That’s It. That’s all. Bummer

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