Friday, July 13, 2012

ROMEO IS BLEEDING (1993) - Peter Medak


I'll probably lose some film geek cred saying this, but Romeo is Bleeding is one of my favorite movies of the '90s. Definitely in my top ten '90s neo-noirs. It didn't register much with audiences when it came out. Even in New York where it had a relatively nifty subway/bus ad campaign (chunks of dialogue above each character's head in pulp mag/comic book style) and did most of its iconic location shooting (Coney Island ferris wheel, Brooklyn Bridge Park), the response was generally "Eh, Romeo does what?"

The success of Reservoir Dogs the year before had prepped people for a revival of the genre, but maybe they weren't ready to go whole hog down noir's circuitous highway-- the world-weary voice over, the unsympathetic protagonist (an embezzling cop), an ending that leaves little hope. I don't think you can blame it on Gary Oldman, spellbinding to watch as always. He was hot off his white Rastafarian cameo in True Romance and his starring role in Dracula. And I don't think you can fault Peter Medak's wildly energetic direction.

My guess is it had something to do with Lena Olin, who, for me, is the foremost reason to watch the film. Honestly, I think she scared the shit out of Romeo's primarily male target audience. Her performance in this film is the most visceral, physical, simultaneously castrating and seductive rendering of a femme fatale I've ever seen on film. When she chokes Oldman from the backseat of a car with piano wire, she couldn't be more gleeful...



When she shoves his face into her crotch while being held in witness protection, she is not just aroused but ecstatic...



The woman doesn't even bat an eyelash at losing an arm when it comes to getting what she wants (i.e., money and more money)...


Olin's Mona Demarkov is a fucking monster and the best reason I can give you to watch this underrated noir gem. Take my word. She will keep you up nights.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love, love, love this movie. It is so visceral, dark, and oppressive. Mona is one of the scariest characters in all of cinema. Great moody score from Mark Isham too.