Monarch Home Video presents
The Florentine (1999)
"They say a bar is a place where people come together, to share things, to not be alone."- Whitey (Michael Madsen)
Stars: Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Luke Perry, Tom Sizemore
Other Stars: James Belushi, Mary Stuart Masterson, Virginia Madsen
Director: Nick Stagliano
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong language
Run Time: 01h:44m:12s
Release Date: 2000-04-11
DVD ReviewIf your looking for a shoot-'em-up, knock-'em-around type of movie you'd better move on. The Florentine is best described as a character film, a slice of life in a small, depressed Pennsylvania town, where the bar (from where the movie gets its name) is the center to which everyone gravitates. Whitey (Michael Madsen) owns the struggling bar his father won in a card game, but owes the neighborhood loanshark (Burt Young) $12,000 he doesn't have--especially since the former is putting up for his sister Molly's (Virginia Madsen) wedding to Jake (Luke Perry).
Chris Penn is an ex-boxer disillusioned by the shortness of his career because of fight-incurred damage to his eye. Now a street bookie reduced to earning his living through threats and intimidation, the former altar boy is also losing touch with his girlfriend (Mary Stuart Masterson), who is seeking to move out to further herself away from his reach.
Truby (Jeremy Davies) is the well-meaning loser, persuant of Claire (Maeve Quinlan) despite his unrequited love, who in many ways ties the different storylines together but lacks any billing whatsoever. Hal Holbrook has an almost non-existent but key role to the plot.
Tom Sizemore is Teddy, Molly's ex, coming back to town unaware she is betrothed to Jake. While Whitey works to stave off Joe the loanshark, Jake is being taken to town by conman Billie Belasco (James Belushi) for the money intended for the cater of his own wedding.
While the men of this film are pretty well realized, the women are not at all, leaving the viewer the sense that they didn't matter much--simple pawns in a man's world. While the writers, Damien Gray and Tom Benson, do a nice job with dialogue, time and place, the story lacks a certain amount of body that might have pushed it to the next level.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame||no - no|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes||no|
Image Transfer Review: I'm not sure if 1.33:1 is the original aspect ratio of this film or not, but this full frame transfer is presentable, but flawed. The frame becomes jittery as Claire is introduced early (01m:28s), is often soft—appearing unfocused, the color appears washed out on many occasions, and fleshtones are too often overly pink. Scan lines are evident, as are the occasional spots of dirt.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: There isn't much to write about in the way of soundtrack here, the DS2.0 mix being solidly centered. If there was surround activity I missed it. In all, there is not much ambience created by the mix, but in an ensemble piece it's not really missed much anyhow as long as you can understand the dialogue—which you can.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc Extrasstatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Layers Switch: na
Extras Review: One theatrical review makes up the entirety of extras on this Plain Jane disc. Although I realize that independent film companies cannot spend as much as the studios, they should really consider tying in certain DVD extras within the contracts, as the latter are now doing more often. Except for a small following of fans, this disc may only do well based on its excellent cast, but the added value of a director's commentary and/or some deleted scenes makes a good movie a disc worth owning.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsWhile the movie had greater potential than it's showing, and the disc is bare bones, if you enjoy good ensemble casts and slices-of-life stories that play against cookie cutter Hollywood offerings, you might want to give The Florentine a try.
Robert Mandel 2000-04-10