You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Somebody to Love

Rosie Perez shines as a spunky taxi dancer with showbiz in her eyes in "Somebody to Love," but she's too often a lone beacon in a dramatically foggy and curiously unaffecting pic. Alexandre Rockwell's first pic since his off-the-wall cult comedy "In the Soup" rarely fires on more than one cylinder at a time.

Mercedes - Rosie Perez Harry Harrelson - Harvey Keitel Emillio - Anthony Quinn Ernesto - Michael DeLorenzo Mickey - Steve Buscemi Sam Silverman - Sam Fuller George - Stanley Tucci Armando - Gerardo Nick - Steve Randazzo

Rosie Perez shines as a spunky taxi dancer with showbiz in her eyes in “Somebody to Love,” but she’s too often a lone beacon in a dramatically foggy and curiously unaffecting pic. Despite some treasurable moments, and a largely reliable cast, Alexandre Rockwell’s first pic since his off-the-wall cult comedy “In the Soup” rarely fires on more than one cylinder at a time. Specialized business could start off warm but looks unlikely to break out into any major salsas. Pic drew OK critical reaction at its Venice fest world preem.

Rockwell wrote the main role of a dollar-a-dance babe in a tacky L.A. club with Perez in mind, after discovering taxi dancing was still flourishing in the barrio of East Los Angeles and subsequently meeting the actress.

Pic was inspired by the Giulietta Masina character in Fellini’s “Nights of Cabiria,” and carries a final dedication “In Memory of Federico and Giulietta.”

Though occasional scenes recall the 1957 Italo classic, Rockwell’s movie is sufficiently rooted in a West Coast milieu for any comparisons to be meaningless.

Mercedes (Perez) is a tough-talking Brooklyn transplant who spends her days being rejected at casting calls even when the part calls for a short, dark Latin woman. Her lover, Harry (Harvey Keitel), also from the East Coast, is a passed-over star who’s going through mid-age career and marital crises.

Enter Ernesto (Michael DeLorenzo), a dewy-eyed Latin kid who falls for Mercedes at the dance club and starts following her around like a faithful dog. She finds him cute and kind, but not bed material.

Keen to make an impression on his new love, Ernesto takes a job as a runner for local racketeer Emillio (Anthony Quinn). After finally being invited into Mercedes’ bed, Ernesto takes on a contract hit from Emillio to earn the $ 10,000 she and Harry need to return to Gotham and start over. Ending is bloody and tragic, but with an upbeat coda similar to the ending of Fellini’s “Cabiria.”

Pic’s biggest problem is establishing a tone. Opening scenes, with Perez involved in some machine-gun repartee with a hustler-agent (Stanley Tucci), and later attending the club and some disastrous casting sessions, have a zing and pace and off-the-wall characters that recall the best bits of “In the Soup.” When the Mercedes-Ernesto story hoves into view, however, the movie starts on another path that never really jells.

Given that Mercedes clearly is a loser and her relationship with Ernesto is a non-starter, pic’s flat dialogue drags down a movie that initially seemed to celebrate the wackier side of day-to-day life among L.A.’s showbiz fringe.

In between, Rockwell lards the film with a host of referential in-jokes that sometimes work but increasingly backfire.

Here’s Steve Buscemi, camping it up as a drag queen at the dance joint; there’s Quentin Tarantino (briefly) as a fast-talking bartender.

Keitel, in a come-and-go part, is strangely low-key, even when misquoting Shakespeare in leopard-skin briefs and propping up the bar at Perez’s club. Quinn, who starts well in an unfamiliarly melancholy role, later disappears for most of the movie until yanked back into the plot to provide a dramatic resolution to the Ernesto-Mercedes story.

The movie’s one constant is Perez, who acquits herself well. Wearing a succession of tacky, figure-hugging clothes, she single-handedly creates a character of superficial hopes and half-understood desires who deserves a sharper script and company than she gets.

J. Rae Fox’s production design fits Perez’s role like a glove, from the low-rent dance club that’s a symphony of kitsch to her own chaotic apartment. Lensing by Robert Yeoman (“Drugstore Cowboy”) is sharp and clean in exteriors and richly colored in interiors. Sole technical blip, in the print caught, is a sometimes misbalanced soundtrack, which in dance hall sequences makes dialogue difficult to hear against music and effects.

Somebody to Love

Production: A Lumiere Pictures presentation of a Lila Cazes production. Produced by Lila Cazes. Executive producer, Jean Cazes. Co-executive producer, Marie Cantin. Directed by Alexandre Rockwell. Screenplay, Sergei Bodrov, Rockwell.

Crew: Camera (Foto-Kem color), Robert Yeoman; editor, Elena Maganini; music, Mader; music supervisor, Charlie Midnight; songs, Tito Larriva; production design, J. Rae Fox; art direction, Erik Polczwartek; costume design, Alexandra Welker; sound (Dolby), Pawel Wdowczak; choreography, Alexandre Magno; associate producer, Bodrov; assistant director, Cas Donovan; casting, Georgianne Walken, Sheila Jaffe. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 6, 1994. (Also in Toronto fest.) Running time: 103 min.

With: Mercedes - Rosie Perez Harry Harrelson - Harvey Keitel Emillio - Anthony Quinn Ernesto - Michael DeLorenzo Mickey - Steve Buscemi Sam Silverman - Sam Fuller George - Stanley Tucci Armando - Gerardo Nick - Steve RandazzoWith: Paul Herman, Angel Aviles, Lorelei Leslie, Quentin Tarantino, Lelia Goldoni.

More Film

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    Writers Guild Says Over 7,000 Members Have Fired Agents

    Over 7,000 members of the Writers Guild of America have fired their talent agents, the Hollywood union said on Monday. As promised, the guild delivered a first round of termination letters to agents in a show of support for the WGA’s full-on war with the Association of Talent Agents. “Today the Guild delivered a first [...]


    Brazil’s Ancine Freezes Incentives, Threatening Film-TV Industry Paralysis

    Brazil’s Ancine agency, its foremost public-sector source of film funding, has frozen all of its incentive programs, potentially near paralyzing new production in Latin America’s biggest film-TV industry. The dramatic decision, which has left Brazil’s industry is a state of shock and intense fear for its future, comes as it has taken further hits. In [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez Reteams With STXfilms on Romantic-Comedy Co-Starring Owen Wilson

    Jennifer Lopez is reteaming with STXfilms on the upcoming romantic-comedy “Marry Me.” Kat Coiro is directing the film and Owen Wilson is in final negotiations to join the pic, which will likely shoot this fall. The script was written by John Rogers and Tami Sagher, with a rewrite by Harper Dill. Lopez and Wilson both [...]

  • Steve Golin The Revenant Spotlight Producer

    Steve Golin, Prolific Producer and Founder of Anonymous Content, Dies at 64

    Steve Golin, an Oscar-winning producer who was founder and CEO of Anonymous Content, died Sunday in Los Angeles of cancer. He was 64. Golin was a pioneer in blending the business of talent management with production. Anonymous Content, which Golin founded in 1999, worked with a stable of big name artists such as Steven Soderbergh, [...]

  • David Leitch Kelly McCormick

    'Hobbs & Shaw' Director David Leitch, Kelly McCormick Sign First-Look Deal With Universal (EXCLUSIVE)

    Universal Pictures is signing David Leitch, his longtime producing partner, Kelly McCormick and their recently founded 87North Production banner to a first-look production deal. “David and Kelly have established themselves as a distinctive, stylish filmmaking team who can do it all, from contained thrillers to franchise tentpoles,” said Universal’s president Peter Cramer. “We are confident [...]

  • Still from cannes competition film "Parasite"

    Cannes: Bong Joon-ho Says ‘Parasite’ Is Too Local to Win Competition

    Having been partially responsible for the Netflix fall out with the Cannes Film Festival, “Okja” and “Snowpiercer” director Bong Joon-ho returns to Cannes competition this year with conventionally- financed “Parasite.” But the Korean-language film is a tragicomedy that Bong says may be too nuanced for the festival. “Cannes always makes me feel excited, fresh, and [...]

  • Summer Box Office: 'Avengers: Endgame,' 'Lion

    Summer Box Office: Five Weekends to Watch

    Popcorn season is upon us, and it’ll be up to comic-book heroes, a wise-cracking genie, and a lion who would be king to ensure movie theaters are still the hottest place to spend the summer. Last summer, blockbusters like “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” Ocean’s 8,” and “The Meg” drove moviegoers to their [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content