You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Palermo Shooting

Twenty-eight pop songs go looking for a drama to accompany them in "Palermo Shooting," which suffers from being both pretentious and inconsequential.

Finn - Campino Flavia - Giovanna Mezzogiorno Frank - Dennis Hopper

Twenty-eight pop songs go looking for a drama to accompany them in “Palermo Shooting,” which suffers from being both pretentious and inconsequential. Wim Wenders’ first European-set narrative feature in 14 years stars German pop singer Campino as a trendy photographer who enters into a periodic conversation with Death (Dennis Hopper in a hood) as he journeys from Dusseldorf to the titular Sicilian city. Though nicely shot and bedecked with almost continuous tunes by name bands the protag is listening to on earphones, pic is dominated by a touristic perspective in the second half and won’t find the critical favor that has eluded Wenders for some time now. Commercial prospects are slim.

Campino, the handsome, tattooed, stubble-faced, arched-eyebrowed, whispery-voiced singer in the popular band Die Toten Hosen, plays fortysomething art photographer Finn, who barely sleeps, streaks around town in a beautiful old sports car and makes major coin doing fashion shoots, notably one featuring the very pregnant Milla Jovovich. He’s also burdened by intimations of death, specifically from drowning, and in a bar is visited by the apparition of a ghostly Lou Reed — a faintly ludicrous sight in context, and certainly one scary enough to drive anyone to leave town.

And where else to go but to Palermo, a labyrinthine city that celebrates a “festival of death” and not a place always renowned for good will to all. Wandering around town taking pictures while listening to his iPod, Finn leads the viewer to quite a few scenic spots and has dreams of Hopper laughing and apparently dogging his steps as arrows come flying at him out of nowhere.

Thus tormented, Finn is fortunate to meet beautiful art restorer Flavia (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), who lends an ear and ultimately takes him in. Although she can’t save the film from its own silliness, Mezzogiorno does provide a gravity and legitimacy of her own, as her mesmerizing eyes and her excellent delivery in English make a dramatic highlight out of a monologue about a personal tragedy, as well as showing up Campino for the non-actor he is. So similar are their looks that Mezzogiorno and Marion Cotillard should play sisters one day.

The philosophical voiceover and climactic exchange about fate between Finn and Death, in the person of Hopper’s Frank, can scarcely be taken seriously, and a great deal of the running time has Finn in idle, just roaming around.

This reps the first time Wenders has shot in his hometown of Dusseldorf and, whether coincidentally or not, the early scenes are particularly evocative, suggesting he should think of setting an entire movie there.

Opening credits, clicking along like still-photograph frames, are striking. Climactic dedication, to “Ingmar and Michelangelo, 30.7.2007,” elicited derisive hoots at Cannes screening, presumably for the discrepancy between the level of the late auteurs’ work and that having just been presented.

Palermo Shooting


Production: A HanWay Films (U.K.) presentation of a Neue Road Movies (Germany) production, in co-production with POR Sicilia-Regione Siciliana, Aapit-Provincia Regionale di Palermo, Arte France Cinema, ZDF/Arte, in association with Pictorian Pictures, Rectangle, Reverse Angle and Deutscher Filmforderfonds, Germany Federal Film Board, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Medienboard Berlin-Branderburg, Media Program. (International sales: HanWay Films, London.) Produced by Wim Wenders, Gian-Piero Ringel. Executive producers, Jeremy Thomas, Peter Schwartzkopff. Directed by Wim Wenders. Screenplay, Wenders, Norman Ohler.

Crew: Camera (color), Franz Lustig; editors, Peter Przygodda, Oli Weiss; music, Irmin Schmidt; music supervisors, Milena Fessmann, Beckmann; production designer, Sebastian Soukup; costume designer, Sabina Maglia; sound (Dolby Digital), Martin Muller; line producers, Marco Mehlitz, Gianfranco Barbagallo; assistant director, Arnt Wiegering. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (competing), May 23, 2008. Running time: 126 MIN.

With: Finn - Campino Flavia - Giovanna Mezzogiorno Frank - Dennis HopperWith: Milla Jovovich, Inga Busch, Jana Pallaske, Axel Sichrovsky, Gerhard Gutberlet, Sebastian Blomberg, Wolfgang Michael, Lou Reed, Udo Samel, Giovanni Sollima, Alessandro Dieli. (German, English, Italian dialogue)

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content