I have to admit, when I was looking for a movie to see today and I saw Tetro listed, I’d never heard of it. But since it was at the closest theater (the other choices there were Whatever Works and Moon) and it was raining at the time, I thought I’d give it a go.

screen capture 203x300 - Tetro

It is written and directed by the frequently brilliant Francis Ford Coppola, based loosely on his own experiences growing up in an Argentine-Italian family. It stars the indie staple and usually underrated Vincent Gallo with, unless you are from South America I suspect, a largely unknown cast. And the cinematography (mostly in black and white) is stunning. The story is pretty straightforward. Bennie comes to Buenos Aires looking for his older brother who left the family in America many years earlier on a writing “sabbatical” and never returned. Bennie’s sudden appearance on his brother’s doorstep brings up all kinds of memories of a famous overbearing father and strained relationships. The older brother has changed his name to Tetro, a shortened version of their last name, and made a life for himself with wife Miranda in Argentina that does not include his former family, including Bennie. But Bennie needs to reconnect and forces things to a very dramatic end.

The scenes shot in Patagonia are nearly worth the price of admission just for the view, but the script is smart and the emotions so true, I would put it up there as one of the best I have seen in along time. Vincent Gallo is fantastic, but so is the actor who plays his younger bother Bennie, Alden Ehrenreich. I think we will be seeing a lot more of him in the next few years. He is like a mix of young Leonardo DiCaprio with a dash of Matt Damon. IMDB says he was “discovered” by Steven Spielberg at the bat mitzvah of a friend of Spielberg’s daughter. The woman who plays Tetro’s “wife” is the lovely and talented Spanish actress Maribel Verdú. I think this is her first English language film, but I hope to see her again, and will probably rent some of her other films. Another element of this film that kept me enthralled was its use of dance. I am not a huge ballet or modern dance fan, but the use of them in this film was brilliant, not in the least gratuitous or extraneous. I hope this means that Francis Ford Coppola is back to making movies for many years to come. If Tetro is anywhere that you can see it in a theater, go now. If not, put it at the top of your rentals list and see it as soon as it is released.

Just found a great Coppola quote which encapsulates his filmmaking: What the studios want now is “risk-free” films but with any sort of art you have to take risks. Not taking risks in art is like not having sex and then expecting there to be children.


  1. NPN Transistor, December 2, 2010:

    actually, i watched this movie twice because i sort of laughed a lot on the ugly truth movie *:*

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