» » Tetro (2009)

Short summary

Bennie travels to Buenos Aires to find his long-missing older brother, a once-promising writer who is now a remnant of his former self. Bennie's discovery of his brother's near-finished play might hold the answer to understanding their shared past and renewing their bond.
The week of his 18th birthday, Bennie, who's a waiter on a cruise ship, has a layover in Buenos Aires. He seeks out his older brother, Tetro, whom he hasn't seen in years. Tetro, who lives with Miranda, is a burned-out case; he's hot and cold toward his brother, introducing him as a "friend," refusing to talk about their family, telling Bennie not to tell Miranda who their father is. Thoughts of their father cast a shadow over both brothers. Who is he, and what past has Tetro left behind? Bennie finds pages of Tetro's unfinished novel, and he pushes both to know his own history and to become a part of his brother's life again. What can come of Bennie's pushing?

Trailers "Tetro (2009)"

Francis Ford Coppola claimed that this is the kind of film he set out to make as a young man, before he was sidetracked by fame and fortune.

In September 2007, thieves broke into Francis Ford Coppola's home studio in Buenos Aires and stole all the electronics, including his computer with the film's script, but it didn't affect the production: "Anyone who's gotten robbed, it's always depressing, and I did lose some data. I didn't lose the script. They said the script is gone, but I have other copies of the script. Obviously I had to send it to actors and stuff, so no. I was astonished that that got such news coverage." [Dec.2007]

Francis Ford Coppola was attracted to Argentina as a location to set the film/story: "I knew Argentina has a great cultural/artistic/literary/musical/cinema tradition, and I like those kinds of atmospheres very much because you usually find creative people to work with."

Francis Ford Coppola wanted Matt Dillon in the title role, but Dillon was unavailable due to conflicting schedules with other films. Later, Coppola realized it would be too close to Rumble Fish (1983) (which also starred Dillon), so after a long search he settled on Vincent Gallo for the title role.

Francis Ford Coppola decided to shoot this film the same way he shot Rumble Fish (1983) (in black-and-white, with occasional bursts of colour), since both films held "a spiritual connection" with each other (both are dramas about relationships, primarily that of brotherhood).

To attain the film's visual style, director Francis Ford Coppola and cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. watched La notte (1961), Baby Doll (1956) and On the Waterfront (1954); films Coppola had admired during his student years.

According to Francis Ford Coppola in an interview with Empire magazine, this is what he considers to be "the most beautiful film [he's] ever made", and a very "personal" project.

Francis Ford Coppola's first original screenplay since The Conversation (1974).

The entire film was edited using Final Cut Pro on Apple Mac computers.

Francis Ford Coppola's take on the autobiographical elements of his film: "nothing in it happened, but all of it is true".

According to Mihai Malaimare Jr., the flashback scenes were filmed in colour, but treated to give a slightly faded texture: "Usually, when we think about the past, we think about photos and home movies, so it's nice to preserve that feeling even if there wasn't someone shooting there..."

One of Francis Ford Coppola's very early films, Dementia 13 (1963), is referenced in the film when the protagonist arrives at a prize ceremony carrying an axe.

Feature film debut of Alden Ehrenreich.

According to Francis Ford Coppola, the film was shot on widescreen to evoke the films of Akira Kurosawa.

The flashback scenes were originally to be shot using 16mm film to emphasize past events, but it was decided that it would be more practical to shoot everything digitally and create a specific look for the flashbacks in post-production.

A scene where Tetro holds a bouquet of flowers pays tribute to On the Waterfront (1954), where Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) does the same thing.

Originally, the tutor Alone was going to be played by Javier Bardem, but upon revising the script Francis Ford Coppola decided the relationship between Alone and Tetro would be more appealing if it was between a man and a woman, so Alone became a woman played by Carmen Maura.

Adriana Mastrángelo, an Uruguayan opera singer who lives in Buenos Aires, has a cameo as the singer at a party.

The ballet sequence was directly influenced by the Michael Powell/ Emeric Pressburger classic The Red Shoes (1948).

The French film magazine 'Cahiers du cinéma' included Tetro (2009) in their Top 10 list for 2009 as No.5.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Jox
    Enthralling, captivating. Buenos Aires, maybe? Black and White scope mostly, the limpid soul and devastating smile of Alden Ehrenreich. Coppola enjoys his freedom and so do we. At the base of it all, a juicy melodrama but the master flies over it with a tireless, youthful zest. Vincent Gallo seem a bit of an odd choice to play the title role and in fact I just found out that Matt Dillon was supposed to have played it. It certainly would have added up the romanticism and the sensuality that runs through it but, never mind. Alden Ehrenreich as Bennie is, quite simply, fantastic. Maribel Verdu another stand out as Tetro's loving if long suffering companion. Karl Maria Brandauer is horribly perfect, a character that emanates the kind of debauchery fame and rotten ego can provide. "There is room for just one genius in this family" I saw the film last night and it hasn't left me for a moment. I can't wait to see it again.
  • comment
    • Author: Tygralbine
    Thousand of miles away from Hollywood, the great Francis Coppola confronts something personal as a human being as well as a filmmaker. The story a young man looking for his older brother under the crippling shadow of a famous father. Hummm. Compelling, absorbing, mesmerizing at times. The younger brother is played with real magic by newcomer Alden Ehrenreich but for some inexplicable reason the older brother and title role is played by Vincent Gallo. He's an interesting guy but not at all the pivot that, clearly, the part required. I needed to feel things that Gallo didn't provide. He's just weird and even in the enormous emotional scenes (like the final one) he's not really there. I wonder why Coppola made this bizarre casting decision. The rest of the cast is fabulous and Buenos Aires breaths a life of its own even if, it didn't feel like Buenos Aires - I know that city pretty well - it looked at times like a border town in Mexico. Buenos Aires has an old fashion, seductive kind of elegance nowhere to be found here. I'm sure there is reason for it and I hope to discover it in my next viewing because this is a film I know I'll see many, many times. Another thing to cheer about, a strange and haunting score (it reminded me of "Apartment Zero" in more ways than one) and a sensational black and white Cinemascope screen. To be seen!
  • comment
    • Author: Thetalen
    17 year-old Bennie works as a waiter on a cruiseship. When the ship suffers engine difficulties and docks in Buenos Aires, he uses the opportunity to attempt to reconnect with his estranged brother Tetro, a once promising writer. He is welcomed with open arms by Tetro's girlfriend, Miranda. She longs to know the truth behind her boyfriends past and what made him the misanthrope he is today. Tetro is hostile towards his brother, his plan was to never see any of his family again, and so keeps him at arms length. Bennie discovers an incomplete play, written in code whilst his brother was undergoing psychiatric treatment. He decides to finish the play and enter it in a festival run by Argentina's most powerful critic, Alone. Faced with this upheaval, Tetro is forced to come to terms with his relationship to his younger brother and his father, a famous conductor.

    Tetro is, at its core, a film about family, in particular the relationship between brothers and their Father. A theme Francis Ford Coppola has immersed himself in before, most notably in The Godfather and Rumble Fish. Through a series of flashbacks we are given a glimpse of major events in Tetro's youth, his relationship with his father (played by Klaus Brandauer) and his subsequent departure. There are huge family secrets known only to Tetro and revealed to Bennie in an ending which echoes great literary and operatic works. Coppolas love of opera and theater is stamped all over the script and the city of Buenos Aires seems to be the perfect background in which to set this story.

    Shot stunningly in digital monochrome with colour flashbacks, it has some aesthetic similarities to Rumble Fish. Coppola and cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. reportedly site On The Waterfront and La Notte as big influences on the films visual style. There are certainly elements of both here, with the film also retaining its visual sense of self. It is operatic in both its narrative and its mise-en-scene. The idea of cutting between colour and monochrome as well as changing aspect ratios sounds as if it would be jarring, and it typically is. But for the purposes of Tetro it works perfectly.

    Seen as a controversial choice by some, Vincent Gallo brings an edge to the titular character that some other actors may have lacked. However it is newcomer Alden Ehrenreich who steals the show as Bennie, a wayward teenager looking for guidance and approval. Maribel Verdu, as Miranda, provides the conduit between the two in a typicaly solid performance.

    Hollywood is littered with once great directors who have fallen from grace, which makes Tetro all the more remarkable as a return to form from one of the greatest, Francis Ford Coppola.
  • comment
    • Author: Prorahun
    Tetro may be the "best" film Francis Ford Coppola has made in twenty-five years. Whether this speaks more to the quality of his present state of direction as an artist or on the relative hits and misses of his career in the dregs of Hollywood (be it aiming high and just missing the mark with Godfather 3 and Dracula to stuff that went over people's heads like Youth Without Youth to even crap like Jack) is a combination. He's someone who attained financial success at a time, but then lost nearly all of it and along with it, arguably, some of his artistic merit. But after years of laying low and making wine, and making a whacked-out experiment that people either dug as an abstract piece or hated to hell ('Youth'), he comes out with Tetro like a porn star with a five-foot erection. He's got something to prove, if not to his audience then himself, and he proves it with a story that is personal and a film-making technique that recalls other masters but never too directly.

    Tetro is about family, a subject Coppola is, of course, well-versed in being it the notorious kind (of course, the Godfather) and the more low-level and oddly intimate (Rumble Fish). It's a story, as with Rumble Fish, told in crisp black and white widescreen with flashes of color for flashbacks which may or may not be real, and as homage to operas like The Tales of Hoffmann. The title character, wonderfully and intensely portrayed by Vincent Gallo, is in a creative exile in Buenos Aires, a once promising writer living with his doctor-wife (Maribel Verdu, great as always) who is paid a visit one day by a young man, his brother Bennie (baby-faced newcomer Alden Ehrenreich) who hasn't seen him in years. There's secrets withheld by Tetro, not least of which about their parents, and soon an unfinished, longhand written play by Tetro (real name Angelo) is discovered by Bennie in a suitcase. He'll finish his brother's play, but at what cost?

    The damaged, almost bi-polar writer, the insistent and impressionable brother, the strong but uncertain woman, these characters are fully realized by Coppola, and then on top of this comes a sort of terrific puzzle that is constructed through Tetro's unfinished play: what about their father, a famous composer (Klaus Maria Brandeur) who split them apart, possibly, or possibly not? What about their mother, who died in a car accident? What about the bond between Tetro and his former mentor, "Alone", the dubbed "most important critic in South America" who has created a pretentious empire around herself? Questions arise, and Coppola rises to the challenge of giving the audience answers but not spoon-fed. It's first and foremost a story of family, of brothers who love but have to find ways to contend with their damaged selves(inspiration being Rocco and His Brothers mayhap), and it's here that it's just about classic, on par with Rumble Fish if not even deeper and wiser about the effect of parents, or lack thereof, in lives spent and possibly wasted.

    The writing is immensely interesting, always, even when Coppola may fall into over-indulging in his fantastic self-indulgence as an artist, such as with the operatic flourishes towards the end (this may not make sense, but compared to the WAY over indulgence of the hard-to-defend Y.W.Y it will). If anything the little imperfections, those brush strokes that go so high with the colors and shadows and impressionistic lighting that he and DP Mihai Malaimaire Jr engage in (one who hopefully will be getting more work following such spectacular work on a mix of 35mm and HD) along with Walter Murch's dependable editing, make it an even stronger work. It should feel a little messy here and there, because its subject matter is about finding a sense of purpose, in each other and in one's art. One feels Coppola working through a history of close but torn family ties, of losing loved ones (i.e. his own son), and at the same time a love of them all and of cinema peeking through in nearly every scene, even the ones where it doesn't look like much is going on.

    Tetro is the antidote, basically, for this month's Transformers sequel. If you need to find the polar opposite of a picture based practically on just making money and reeling in the crowds with its dumb giant robot battles and preposterous and shallow theatrics, look no further than a picture which cares about its characters, its multi-faceted story and themes, and about projecting a technique that hearkens back to cinema of the 50s and 60s while sticking to an originality by its filmmaker. This will likely stay with me for a while, which is what Coppola's most profound works have done.
  • comment
    • Author: Lamranilv
    I am not a film major. Hell I've never even been to college. Through my horrible grammar and misspellings, you will take note of how I even barely got through high school.

    There are films out there that have puzzled me (anything by David Lynch), films that have made me laugh (Dumb and Dumber was my favorite) and foreign films that I once considered to be the way films should be made (Let the Right One In, Ichi the Killer). I've seen films that have bored me (Gummo, Brown Bunny) and have had my guilty pleasure(unfortunately, Transformers 2.

    But never, NEVER in my life have I seen a film that has engrossed me like this has. I have never walked out of a theatre in absolute awe. Never have I truly been able to say that a film made me laugh, made me cry, made me FEEL true emotions for a character. Such beautiful cinematography, such bold yet unobtrusive dialog... no one character "steals the show".

    I sat in that theatre for 143 minutes and not once was I bored. Not once was I annoyed by a character, or a one-liner. Not once was my jaw not dropped.

    This film is what a film should be... what films were meant to be. There are movies out there for entertainment but every once in a while, there is a film that comes along that changes the way you feel about entering a theatre all together.

    I viewed this film with 10 other people in a small college theatre that will only play this film for one week. And the only reason I came to watch it was because my girlfriend absolutely adores Vincent Gallo (which he is amazing in) and no other reasons than that.

    I don't know what else I could say about this film that could praise it any more that I have. I love this film. It's the greatest movie I've ever seen. That may not seem like much to you since you all have possibly seen similar movies in film class, or through word of mouth. But for the average joe such as myself, this film is a masterpiece.

    Bravo, Copolla. Bravo.
  • comment
    • Author: Munimand
    As a lover of Coppola's Great films, I'll watch anything he does, no matter how many misfires he produces. And I hate to admit it, but for me, Tetro was a complete misfire. I'm actually surprised at all the strong reviews and I wonder if people saw the same movie as me.

    The film's Art House all the way. Black and white, staged like a play, BIG Greek and literary themes driving the story, to obvious devices like a cat named "Problema", a man in a cast until his brother arrives, symbolically driving the character arcs and story.

    Coppola obvious loves theater. The film is filmed with theater pieces throughout the storyline and the movie itself feels like it belonged on stage.

    This is all good if it works, but it didn't. The film was redundant, the characters cliché's, the dialogue uninteresting....and the acting of the two male leads was completely undramatic. Nothing against anyone personally, but to me, Vincent Gallo is just not a good actor. He's personae. Coppola failed because he cast an actor who looks and feels exactly like the self-indulgent "artist" that Coppola was trying to characterize in Tetro. The result was that there was nothing fresh in this film, especially in the characters. (The lead actress was strong, and she overshadowed both the men on screen.) I think Coppola is rediscovering his craft, and it's starting with story telling. The film is extremely ambitious as it tries to tackle the father and son dynamic for the 1000th time in literary history. It's hard to forgive, or miss, sub-par and redundant writing in this genre and Coppola unfortunately brought nothing fresh to the literary table. What he did bring fresh, if anything, was art house to the American public, but unfortunately the film isn't strong enough to break into mainstream America. Not even close. The film attempts to be serious and viewers who see Coppola's name over a black and white dramatic piece about fathers and sons will pretense a masterpiece...just because. But it's not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.

    Imagine the best of American black and white films that were either derived from the stage or a homage to plays and classical dramatic writing. Tetro could be A Streetcar Named Desire if it worked. But it's not even close. Streetcar had acting, it had characters, it had fresh dialogue, it had real drama. Nothing in Tetro could measure to these standards - not even the self-conscious cinematography. The main male actors bring nothing to life in this film because they don't know how to and because the writing gets in the way. Anyone who thinks this film is great, please go back and watch these movies and remember what great character driven dramatic cinema should be. Let's not reward on intention, but on execution.

    Coppola should have rewritten this script for another year before he filmed it and recast it with serious actors (V Gallo doesn't even read scripts he receives, he just reads his parts). He would have achieved something much better than what he did here.

    Everyone bitches about the studio system, but, I hate to say it, Coppola was at his best when he worked with the talent the studio system affords and attracts.

    As a human being, good for him that he can make films on his own terms, all the power to him. But, go deeper next time Francis and perfect your script before you shoot it and find real actors to pull it off.
  • comment
    • Author: porosh
    When two estranged brothers are reunited in Buenos Aires a story unfolds as truths are told, history revisited and the future rewritten. Glorious in it's black and white, Francis Ford Coppola has woven together a huge, operatic styled film with a beautiful, yet sad tale of family at it's heart.

    It is often breathtaking in it's imagery; light flickers across faces, each frame looks exquisite and the camera places itself at angles that give a entirely new perspective. Alden Ehrenrich is beautiful upon the screen and portrays the younger brother Bennie wonderfully. Older brother Tetro is aloof and almost mean and is actually well played by Vincent Gallo. Another great performance is by Maribel Verdu as the ever supportive woman in Tetro's life.

    The story is immense, and the past is gradually revealed and usually and at first oddly in contrasting colour. These flashbacks I found annoying because they were in colour, yet as the film progresses a touch of surrealism enters the film as flashbacks are told in colour but also in the form of dance adding to the operatic, theatrical feel the film gathers as it progresses. It is an amazing achievement, the dance sequences are beautiful and sublime. As is the film's score, at times the use of opera and classical pieces couldn't be more perfect and add a wonderful sense of feeling to the film. I was so throughally enraged by the film I could barely take my eye from the screen.

    It is rare that I come away from a film, wanting to see it again, but with Tetro I did. It is a film full of beauty, emotion and tragedy. One that tells a great story and does so with great visual style. Brilliant stuff More of my reviews at my site
  • comment
    • Author: catterpillar
    For Francis Ford Coppola, the last forty years have been an uphill battle, not only with critics but also against an adoring public who have held him to the highest of standards since such masterpieces as "The Godfather" and "The Godfather: Part 2", both having brought home Best Picture Oscars and garnering best Director nods, the latter presenting him with the win. Films like "One from the Heart" and "Peggy Sue Got Married" make even his most hardcore of fans wonder, "What the hell is going through this guys freakin' skull?" Can directors truly lose their finesse? Can these just be metaphorical ruts like we've seen from the recent string of M. Night Shyamalan disasterpieces? What's the exact percentage ratio of wine from Coppola Vineyards that he consumes to that of which he produces? I digress. Now two years after the mediocre "Youth Without Youth", Coppola churns out "Tetro", a small little self authored Indy film that may just be the one he needs to regain credibility in the eyes of his audiences. The question is…does he pull it off? Bennie (Played by fresh face Alden Ehrenreich) has traveled to Buenos Aires to re-connect with his estranged brother (Vincent Gallo, Buffalo 66') who now goes by the name of "Tetro". Upon his arrival, he is greeted by the gorgeous Miranda (Mirabel Verdu), Tetro's girlfriend, who graciously invites him to stay at their home against Tetro's own reservations. It doesn't take long before Bennie begins to realize that his long lost brother is not the person he once was, but rather an on edge, manic and short tempered poet. "When I met him," says Miranda, "he said he was a writer. He held everything he ever wrote against his chest." As the story unfolds absolutely nothing is what it appears to be and when Bennie gets his hands on one of Tetro's unfinished plays, he finds out that the true story of his family holds secrets darker than he could have ever imagined.

    Simply put, "Tetro" is Francis Ford Coppola's reinvention back into "quality" cinema and a perfect example of the wonder that can be achieved when a Director is in control of practically all creative aspects of his work. Don't be mistaken, if you're looking for the Coppola from the 70's, he's long gone. This new Coppola has been reborn, emerging as someone quite different. Funded entirely through revenue from his private vineyard, he's created one of the most stylistically atmospheric black and white films that I've seen in recent memory. One can't help but feel that there are heavy influences by the great Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini throughout, especially through the incorporation of operatic high drama and scenes that feel all too autobiographic to be dismissed as pure coincidence. In addition, there is a subtle Noir accent which is credited to Mihai Malaimare's gorgeous cinematography. Coppola is now, a true Indy, non-conformist filmmaker and my gut tells me that he really doesn't care. Instead, he doesn't give it all away, but rather does an exceptional job of keeping the motives, feelings and details about his characters well hidden for the longest possible duration of time until it is inevitable for such crucial facts to be revealed solely to aid the plot.

    Mainstream audiences may just come to hate Tetro. It has an overall "artsy" coat to it that many of today's average moviegoers may not be able to get past. This includes extended, sporadically placed dance sequences from Powell and Pressburger's celluloid Opera "The Tales of Hoffmann" as well as original ballet numbers which are used to convey character emotions and cleverly emphasis certain themes. That said, foreign film aficionados, especially those of such Directors as Giuseppe Tornatore or Michael Radford, will be delighted with Coppola's knowledge of the Genre and passionate homage to those who have coined it. Through the script, he is precise and very careful with what he chooses to include as well as place importance on. With many scenes purely dialogue driven, he is a master of building tension without having to rely on the support of quick cutting, action or special effects to drive home his points.

    Actor Vincent Gallo, in one of his first non-self Directed/self written films, fits comfortably into the role of Tetro. His narcissism (which I believe is in fact also grounded in his real life) brings life to the part and he's believable straight up to the films shocking conclusion. There is a certain vulnerability and a hurt that Gallo also manages to convey which is really what makes Tetro such an interesting character to watch on screen. Newcomer Alden Ehrenreich has a look matched by the likes of Leonardo DeCaprio, and certainly has the acting chops to pull it off. There is a definite star appeal about him that seems to emanate naturally which will certainly cause him to gain more roles and credibility as a performer in the future. Mirabel Verdu is absolutely stunning as Miranda and gives off a "Sophia Loren" type elegance, a role that rounds out the feeling that what we're experiencing is in part truly a charming foreign film coming out of what was once a mainstream filmmakers body.

    Tetro is a testament to the fact that an artist can pick himself up over the course of decades and learn from his failures as well as his successes. Francis Ford Coppola's recent work is bold, daring and symbolizes his true love for the medium. At its heart you can see that the characters, story and attention to even the most minor of details are shown so much love and care that they could only be executed by a passionate and dedicated creative mind. My only regret after seeing Tetro is that more people will turn down the opportunity to open their eyes and experience it for themselves.
  • comment
    • Author: Perdana
    I knew nothing about this film but went along to a private screening at Cannes just last week.

    I wasn't sure whether the black and white was going to last much past the opening scenes, it did, and I feel it really helped this film portray the contrast and the depression felt by the main character Tetro.

    The film slowly unravelled slowly, providing just enough snippets of the bigger underlying story obviously hidden away in the past of the 2 brothers to keep you engaged. Played out against the backdrop of modern day Argentina (it wasn't obvious when the period was until we get a glimpse of a modern day car about 25 minutes in) We have Bennie the young brother, visiting his manic depressive prospect playwright brother and catching up on lost time together. However it's evident from the start that the older brother, Tetro does not want to rekindle any family ties for reasons that unfold during the film.

    Bennie discovers the latent stories written by Tetro and attempts to finish them in order for Tetro to be recognised for his brilliance, something Tetro himself seems unwilling to do.

    I love what Coppola has done here, I loved the character and the vibe he set, particularly the little village theatre where Tetro worked and where we see a gaudy and low budget production of Faust being performed. We revisit this theatre for Bennie/Tetro's first play which doesn't go well! The underlying story is all about the father of the brothers, a top orchestral conductor who jumped on his far more talented brothers back (Tetro's uncle)to become the most renown conductor in New York. What then follows is his megalomaniacal fathers disregard of his son and subsequent stealing of his sweetheart. Coupled with the fact that Tetro was then responsible for his mothers death in a car crash and his father never forgave him and you have the perfect recipe for the depressive abyss that Tetro finds himself in at the start of the film where we come in.

    We see some beautiful flashback sequences, in colour to provide the contrast to Tetro's mood, of past events but done in a theatrical almost ballet style. The ones toward the end of the film are nothing short of exquisite and really hammer home the depth of feeling.

    The climax sees Bennie and Tetro finally rewarded by their peers at the regional arts festival for their joint work but also forced to face up to the ultimate family secret, one which I shan't give away here! The signs for a big twist are apparent but exactly what that is may be narrowed down but not apparent until it occurs in my opinion.

    The actor who plays young Bennie has DeCaprio overtones and does bear a physical resemblance, Gallo as Tetro is menacing yet feeble behind his fake facade. Tetro's wife provided a perfect go between for the main characters, not to mention turning in a brilliant performance! Jose the cafe owner provides comic relief and 'Alone', the theatre critic is the spectre of potential humiliation and failure that Tetro must overcome and convince of his genius.

    I loved this film and only gave it a 7 for the predictable ending which was a bit over dramatic and clichéd for what was otherwise a well acted and nicely designed bit of cinema. The story is rich and the scenery and sets are brilliant, particularly the Patagonian mountains.

  • comment
    • Author: Conjulhala
    "Youth is Wasted on the Youth". At a point beyond the barrier of the 40's , we all know that to be true, but the true unfairness of this fact of life is that the opposite is often also true. I for one haven't reached that other age bracket yet, but after having watched "Tetro" -and with the unfortunate reminiscence of Antonioni's "Beyond The Clouds" or on a much lesser level, Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" still fresh on my mind-, I'm starting to wonder if the weight of the years and decades of very intense reflection doesn't have very nefarious consequences indeed on a talented person's ego. "Tetro" sinks under so much self-importance, as if it couldn't bear the load of wisdom that Coppola wants us to believe he has acquired over the years. Don't get me wrong, we all know Coppola will forever be the outrageously brilliant director of some of the most purely cinematic experiences since the birth of cinema; the problem is, it seems like Coppola's artistic development has been stumped -the impression he gives is that of the snake charmer that has charmed himself. The very infantile notion of "genius" and the need to be recognized as such are at the heart of this very artificial, anachronistically romantic film. I could go on ranting about the incredibly superficial vision of Buenos Aires, which drops us at Café Gran Tortoni, La Boca and Radio La Colifata as if on a sightseeing tour bus - I was surprised there was no scene of a couple dancing tango-.
  • comment
    • Author: Olelifan
    I've walked out of two theater movies to date. The first was "Bean" in 1997. This was the second.

    All acting aside, the script for this movie was terrible. Dialogue was frequently cliché, and irrelevant details abounded, leaving big questions about character motivation unanswered -- characters weren't fully developed, as hard as they tried to be. Final editing was poor, as the film was pieced together strangely. The reoccurring nudity was tasteless, pointless, weird, and ultimately what caused the final offense.

    I am usually a fan of Art House, but I am not a fan of Art House for Art House's sake. This is what Ghost World refers to as "The Flower That Drank the Moon".
  • comment
    • Author: INvait
    Francis Ford Coppola returns to film school, per se, and is a triple threat as writer, producer and director for this independent black and white study of two brothers: one a brooding "genius", Vincent Gallo as Tetro; the other, Alden Edrenreich as Bennie, a youthful dud who, staying with brother and his girlfriend, yearns to complete Tetro's play-in-progress, scrawled in notebooks and only meant as cathartic exercise for the author.

    This same thing can be said of the film: obviously heartfelt and soul-owned by Coppola, it all comes across as pretentious and, despite a pretty good twist-ending, somewhat liken to CHINATOWN, this is a muddled, plodding, overlong mess that, if it were in fact a student (short) film at twenty minutes, might have been interesting.

    The location, Buenos Aries, is beautiful, as is the cinematography. But the characters are all one-sided, especially the famous composer father, shown in colorized flashbacks: so abundantly evil he should have a thin little mustache.

    Vincent Gallo looks, and acts, the part of a dark-horse artist; but Edrenriech lacks the blunt determination that, for instance, Matt Dillon (originally cast as Tetro) wielded as the little- bro-under-big-bro's-shadow in Coppola's eighties venture RUMBLE FISH, which this is a ponderous replica of.
  • comment
    • Author: skriper
    After a career that has consisted of the "Godfather" movies, "Apocalypse Now", "The Outsiders", Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and "Youth without Youth" - to name just a few - where would Francis Ford Coppola go next? He directed "Tetro", about the secret history of an Italian-Argentinian family.

    Benjamin Tetrocini (Alden Ehrenreich) arrives in Buenos Aires and goes to visit his brother Angelo (Vincent Gallo). The embittered Angelo is now going by the name Tetro. As the movie progresses, a series of important topics about the family gets revealed, and how it has always affected the relationship between the two brothers.

    Coppola uses one of the most unusual devices to tell the story. The present is filmed in stark black-and-white, while the past is shown in a slightly grainy color. It's as if the past was supposedly apparent - to show that the characters thought that they knew everything that was going on - while the present is supposedly unclear (to show that there are things to be discovered). I read that the movie pays homage to "The Tales of Hoffman", but I don't know that one, so I have to take the movie at face value. And what I saw certainly impressed me. I definitely recommend this movie.

    Also starring Maribel Verdú, Carmen Maura, Klaus Maria Brandauer, and Rodrigo de la Serna (who co-starred in "The Motorcycle Diaries" and is a relative of Che Guevara).
  • comment
    • Author: Orll
    A local film critic labeled this film "asinine" and as I came to mistrust this critic in the past I went to see the movie despite. As I live in Las Vegas, movies which do not deal with a lot of explosions ,detonations , crude humor and sex are usually not well attended. That means that most of the time I find myself in the movie theater with maybe three to five other people. This time there were five people beside me, at a showing at 8.oo pm on a Friday night.

    It was the first movie in a long time I really enjoyed. And I will enjoy it again. This one will go in my DVD collection. What a beautiful movie !! Shot in mostly black and white it is a piece of art with every scene a visual delight. The story could be that of Oedipus, only in this case the father marries the wife of the son and the son only dreams of killing the father, but in reality causes the death of his mother. The father is overpowering and very well played by Klaus Maria Brandauer. It is a real family drama.

    The whole cast is outstanding, the only small criticism I have is that the title character Tetro looks so different as an adult from the teenager that it is difficult to make a connection.

    There are some beautiful scenes shot in color out of the opera "The Tales of Hoffmann'' and interesting views of Buenos Aires' every day life. I always considered movie making an art form. Coppola succeeded in making a piece of art. It is only very sad that the critics obviously are only able to look at the box office success of movies. Unfortunately they seem to be in the pockets of the studios and help to lower the general taste of the public, which is already low enough, movies making fun about bodily functions and movies about mass mutilations and rags-to-riches-fairy tales will attract a huge audience, while a movie like Tetro will only generate negative responses by the reviewers or none at all, to make sure that nobody will see it.
  • comment
    • Author: lucky kitten
    is there a less appealing actor than Gallo? the dredges of cable TV at 2am could hardly locate an odder character who wants fame. his output has been perverse and peripheral for so long. people are waiting for Coppola's return, and he'll get there I'm sure. Youth Without Youth was beautiful but still not the right project for this supreme team of filmmakers.....perhaps some good old studio pressure, like the variety that reportedly made The Godfather such a difficult shoot (full of firings and re-hirings), but such a classic result. the sequel was superlative, and perhaps the perfect mix of Coppola with more freedom, which he deserves, but also facing some scrutiny, likely from some unsavory money men but still...he'll get there. When he celebrated Sophia Coppola 'finally joining the family business' at the Oscars, I was smiling for days!
  • comment
    • Author: Gardataur
    One thing that's clear from 'Tetro', Francis Coppola's beautiful, disturbing, very personal new film (a great improvement over his 'Youth Without Youth' of two years ago) is that whether its themes are autobiographical or not, they show a man who still has strong feelings about family and a wealth of artistic ideas about how to act them out. Family seems a poisonous and irresistible thing. When Vincent Gallo tells Alden Ehrenreich at the end of the film, "We're family," it sounds as haunting as "Forget It, Jake - It's Chinatown" at the end of Roman Polanski's movie. Family, like Chinatown, is a place of mysterious trouble, of rivalries that come back to haunt you, of resentments and terrible deceptions.

    There's a lot of pain about failed ambitions too. Tetro (a mean, brooding Vincent Gallo;"tetro" means 'sad' or 'dark' in Italian), a would-be writer, is hiding away in Buenos Aires, the birthplace of his father, when his younger brother Bennie (excellent newcomer Alden Ehrenreich) appears one night in the pristine white uniform of a cruise ship employee. The action thenceforth is an off-and-on wooing of Tetro by Bennie. Bennie wants to recover his childhood when he worshiped Angelo, as he was then. "Angelo's dead," Tetro repeats. Bennie has felt abandoned for a decade. He is almost eighteen, and ran away from military school and lied about his age to get the job on the ship. Now Tetro does not welcome Bennie at all and keeps saying he ought to stay with someone else or return to the boat, which is docked for repairs.

    The 'Godfather' films are full of brother and father rivalries too, but because this film is about waywardness and is in coldly beautiful digital black and white with moments of intense color, it more strongly recalls Coppola's similarly color-highlighted black and white version of S.E. Hinton's 'Rumblefish,' where Mickey Rourke played the dangerous, disreputable but romantic older brother and Matt Dillon the younger one who has missed him.

    This certainly isn't Tusa, though. It's Argentina, but also an alternately windswept and mountainous Patagonia, and a world of pure cinematic imagination highlighted by trips into intense Fifties Technicolor with The Red Shoes and The Tales of Hoffman and Copola's own strange evocations of that lushly artificial style. Flashbacks in less intense color recall the father -- perhaps one should write "the Father" -- Carlo Tetrocini (Klaus Maria Brandauer), born in Buenos Aires of Italian family, a composer and orchestra leader hailed as a genius. Carlo has stifled the ambitions of another musical composer brother (played by Brandauer in heavy makeup) and seems to have driven Tetro (Gallo) mad. Tetro lives a bipolar, cosmopolitan life with a warm and sexy Spanish lady called Miranda (Maribel Verdú: we know her from 'Y tu mamá también' and 'Pan's Labyrinth') who discovered him when he was in an asylum and she was a visiting entertainer. Tetro has all but abandoned his magnum opus, a play he can't finish, and works in a theater where he does the lighting.

    One can hardly attribute the resentment of the father to Coppola himself; his own father was a minor musician best known for composing music for Coppola's films. Perhaps he himself is the evil father? But then what to make of Sofia Coppola, the acclaimed and successful daughter, a fine director in her own right? The Oedipal themes that arise may be more universal than autobiographical. The mother in Tetro however, is partly missing from the equation, a shadowy figure who who died in a car accident when Tetro/Angelo was driving. There are so many references to accidents one begins to fear one every time somebody goes out. And indeed walking a dog proves dangerous.

    Bennie discovers Tetro's hidden manuscripts, which, like hidden memories, are written in mirror writing he says is "military school code." Among various Argentinian friends the youth meets "the most famous critic in Latin America," a woman who calls herself "Alone" (Carmen Maura, another Spanish actress, whom we know from films by Pedro Almodóvar). When Benie first arrives, Tetro has a broken leg. Later he breaks a leg himself, and while recovering he transcribes the MS. into normal writing and adds an ending. "Alone" runs an arts festival in Patagonia, and he has the unwitting collaboration translated into Spanish and enters in the festival competition, which it wins. Tetro rejects all this. Gallo's evocations of depression, anger, and hostility are extremely realistic. His final revelations and eventual warm acceptance of Bennie, whose accident causes him to miss his boat, are perhaps less convincing, though his performance is strong. Ehrenreich, who sometimes resembles a young, but more physically solid Leo DiCaprio, is touching and appealing.

    It's not clear at first what the Powell/Pressberger 'Red Shoes' and 'Tales of Hoffman' have to do with the story, except that Tetro took Bennie to see them. But they illustrate a sensibility so steeped in cinema that it can't evoke emotion without remembering films. Everything in Tetro is highly artificial, or simply cinematic, but also convincingly emotional. The tensions between the brothers have been compared to those in Kazan's 'East of Eden,' and Coppola indeed thought of Kazan in making this film and has spoken of a felt rivalry with him. The Patagonian arts festival sequences recall both Fifties comedies and Fellini. For all this artificiality, the film stirred up plenty of discomfort in me. One can perfectly well awaken painful emotions by mimicking old films, as Todd Haynes did in his odd pastiche of Douglas Sirk, 'Far From Heaven.' 'Tetro' doesn't feel resolved; it has a little of the rambling incoherence of 'Youth Without Youth,' except that it is so much more intensely felt. Above all it is a unique work that is beautiful to look at and keeps one guessing. Coppola has said this is the kind of movie he wanted to make when he was young. Very well, it's a bit late for that; but why not?
  • comment
    • Author: Conjukus
    I had a chance to see Tetro last night at the Seattle Film Festival, along with a private reception with Francis Ford Coppola. He also spent some time taking questions after the film.

    Let me start by saying this was a wonderful film, focusing on the dynamics that exist within a family of creative people struggling for success, or coping with the success of others. According to Coppola, many of the dynamics came from his personal experience, although the film itself is fictional.

    The real gem in the film is new talent, Alden, who plays the character of Bennie. He gives a fantastic performance and outshines many of the more seasoned actors he stars with.

    The film is almost entirely in black and white, with flashbacks and other small sections in color. It was shot in digital HD, not film, but had post-processing effects added to give it a warm film feeling.

    What kept this film from being a 10 for me was a feeling towards the latter half that it may have been too long, and somewhat predictable in it's ending. With half an hour to go it was already clear to me how the story would play out, and while the performances were wonderful, I didn't need such an elongated ending.

    Overall, I think this may be one of Coppola's best films, and expect it to do fantastic in the theater. Go see this movie!
  • comment
    • Author: kinder
    This film conceived, written, produced and directed by the renowned Francis Ford Coppola is empty and pointless. There are good performances, good cinematography, and directorial skills are in evidence. But why bother? Yes, there is atmosphere. But it is dark and depressing. The story has a germ of an idea to it, but what has happened to Coppola's writing abilities? He has in the past written such important screenplays. I suggest that Francis has nothing to say at the moment. Let us hope that his situation will improve, that he will pull himself together, and find something interesting and worthwhile to say. He is also in danger of becoming pretentious, possibly because he has been praised too much and for too long and is starting to believe in it. Waiting for him to recover from this is a bit too much like imagining Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for (Jean-Luc) Godard'.
  • comment
    • Author: Braendo
    Tetro, shows an extremely personal touch and seemingly is more the result of an up-and-comer than a proved auteur. While the film itself may be laboriously slow and somewhat of a chore to sit through its entirety, one cannot deny the craft put in, nor the skillful eye used. Composed of black and white stock—the only color coming in flashbacks or dream sequences—and shot in mostly close-up and skewed angles, Tetro deliberately peels back the layers of secrets making up the Tetrocini family, showing us what really caused our titular character's meltdown as well as how he may still be saved.

    It all begins more or less straightforwardly as we see young Bennie arrive in Buenos Aires upon a cruise ship he has been working on. The craft needs repairs and will be docked for a week, giving him some down time to visit his brother Angelo whom he hasn't seen in years. The eldest boy, now going by the name Tetro, shortened from his last name, ran away to go on sabbatical in order to write. Never good enough for his famous father, Tetro hid away in South America and severed all ties to his life in America, including his young brother, who he had written a letter saying that he'd be back to take him away. Bennie viewed his sibling as a hero, someone in the arts that was willing to go after his dream. As a result, he left military school and joined the cruise ship to travel and perhaps write something himself. The collision of these two men—two creatures that are linked with love as well as rivalry, much like their father and uncle—shines the light on what really happened to Angelo. With family thrust upon him, Tetro slowly breaks down his barriers to accept Bennie into his life, until he is betrayed. The newcomer decides that his brother needs a success to turn the corner on his past, so he takes it upon himself to find the coded pages long since put away and turn it into a play good enough to compete for a festival prize.

    My true feelings about the film are conflicted. The first half of the tale, leading us to Bennie's planned departure progresses in a linear manner and with a steady pace. It is at the point where the boy decides to save his brother, in effect breaking all trust with him and the elder's need for isolation from Angelo Tetrocini, a man he used to be but has since died in his mind, that the story gets both very intriguing and very slow. The second half drags on and on, sometimes at an excruciating pace, yet at the same time brings some visual flair that is stunning. The colored dreamlike moments, visual representations of the emotions the brothers feel when thinking about the play based upon their lives, are absolutely beautiful. We see the car crash that kills Tetro's mother, (Bennie's is different, a woman now in a coma for nine years), but only when we see the staged version do you feel the sorrow. The line on the road of blood, smearing as the body of the woman is spun around in a ballet-like dance is unforgettable. Scenes like that are followed by massive setpieces drawing you in just as you thought it couldn't get more trying to stay in your seat. A funeral scene, complete with an orchestra surrounding the coffin, a chorus of boys on a staircase, and a gorgeous sequence walking into traffic with cars veering left and right in more a choreography than a true line of cars stuck with me.

    These moments had me mesmerized, much like Tetro is by the glares of lights, whether fluorescent bulbs or reflective mountains, calling to memory the headlights coming toward him the night his mother passed away. Helping keep my interest was also some wonderful performances by the cast. Maribel Verdú is perfect as the nurturing voice of reason to counteract the mercurial tempests her love Tetro stirs up, Miranda; Mike Amigorena is just far enough into campiness to effectively portray the actor/playwright Abelardo, setting the bar for other characters to be just over the edge into the hyperreal; and Alden Ehrenreich handles the second lead of Bennie with success, if not a bit rough as any newcomer would be. His turn reminded me not only of Leonardo DiCaprio's role of Romeo, but of the actor in every way. Whether his career follows the same path or not remains to be seen, but being "discovered" by Spielberg at a bar mitzvah isn't a bad way to break into the industry.

    The welcome surprise of it all, however, is the deserved top billing of Buffalo-born Vincent Gallo as Tetro. His soft-spoken voice does wonders in keeping the audience off balance, contrasting his strong temper and multiple instances of flying off the handle. But he also succeeds in the quiet moments where Coppola lingers on his face as he thinks or becomes engrossed in the lights or his own fears and inhibitions. The ultimate secret hidden beneath the surface may not be the most original, or the most surprising, but it does fit the story to a tee. Tetro is dark, mysterious, and, at the same time, full of life. It is not a film I will be forgetting about anytime soon, but unfortunately the reasons aren't always good ones. It will take a certain type of person to truly enjoy this offering—equal parts film school exercise of cinema at its basic form and overlong opus serving to unburden the creator more than entertain the audience. Probably worthy of dissection by critics and professors alike, it just doesn't quite cut it as entertainment, not really making a second viewing necessary or wanted.
  • comment
    • Author: MOQ
    Released in 2009 and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, "Tetro" is drama about two American brothers in Buenos Aires, Argintina. The younger one, Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich), idolizes the older, Tetro (Vincent Gallo), and hasn't seen him in a dozen years because he mysteriously cut all ties with the family and moved to Argentina, where he lives with his girlfriend, Miranda (Maribel Verdú). Bennie discovers his brother's near-finished play and is obsessed with completing it without his permission, perhaps because he senses it holds the answers he seeks. Klaus Maria Brandauer plays the arrogant conductor father while cutie Sofía Gala is on hand as a young Argentinan girl that fancies Bennie. The movie is primarily in B&W, but with color flashbacks.

    "Tetro" is an artful and somewhat hypnotic adult-oriented drama by the master filmmaker, the very opposite of conventional Hollywood blockbusters. Ehrenreich is reminiscent of Leonardo DiCaprio when he was young while Gallo is broodingly charismatic as the eponymous protagonist. Coppola has always had a good eye for female cast and "Tetro" delivers the goods with Verdú and Gala, although I wish the latter had more screen time. There's a revelation at the end that I failed to anticipate, but should have because everything in the story points to it.

    Francis said at the Cannes film festival that "nothing in (the movie) happened, but it's all true." In other words, the film's autobiographical in some ways. The challenge is to perceive the parallels. Two are obvious seeing as how Coppola's father was a famous conductor. The other is when South America's most honored critic asks Tetro if her opinion matters to him anymore and he honestly says it doesn't; sticking her nose in the air, she silently walks away. Like Tetro, Coppola no longer cares what critics think of his works. It's akin to Kurtz' disposition toward the pathetic brass in "Apocalypse Now." The critic's name in the film is fittingly "Alone," played by Carmen Maura. Then there's the fact that Francis has a brother he's been known to have a love/hate relationship with, not to mention how his nephew, Nicolas Cage, is a little reminiscent of the titular character. But none of this speculation really matters; all that matter is that "Tetro" is a creative, operatic, entertaining drama. But stay away if you need constant 'exciting' things going on, like explosions, absurd action scenes and the corresponding CGI (not that there's anything wrong with that, lol).

    The film runs 127 minutes and was shot in Buenos Aires & the Andes, Argentina with studio work done in Spain.

    GRADE: B
  • comment
    • Author: HeonIc
    I can see a lot of connection between Copolla's 1983 Rumble Fish and this 2009 Tetro. Firstly there's that same inky black monochrome that's as dark as night and with the occasional splash of colour. Then, there's the brotherly relationship, here between Vincent Gallo and Alden Ehrenreich.

    It's a while since I last watched Rumble Fish but the brothers there were Mickey Rourke (a rare good film for him at that time) and Matt Dillon. It's about street gangs and pool halls and how an older brother can be very impressionistic on a younger sibling. I'll say no more, except it's a blinder of a film and better than this.

    I would have to say that the monochrome cinematography here, though, that everybody drools over is just too dark and contrasty, for this subject and film. I'm a photographer, so hopefully know and whilst Rumble Fish looked superb, that was full of geometric angles and angular paradoxes. Here, the screen is often plunged into almost darkness much of the time.

    There is a balletic beauty to much of it though and we veer away from Rumble Fish and on to his works of epic greatness. The Godfathers and Apocalypse Now all share with this, an operatic build up of artistic and emotional tension that is mesmerising. Tetro has this toward the end at the Festival and we start anticipating something big and great. Do we get it? You'll have to see it yourself...

    Others have touched on the actual storyline and I'm going to leave that to them. That said, the cast are all good but oddly, Vincent Gallo, as Tetro seems to short-change us. Not performance wise but in that we just don't seem to get to know him, which is part of the whole story, of course. Clamming up into a shell is nature's way of protecting us, emotionally, which is what Tetro did - and still does.

    One major plus to this, very bog-standard DVD, was the sound quality - I 'felt' the sound as much as heard it. It prickled my eardrums with a tactile clarity, certainly Hi-fi standard, plus. OK, it was through separate amp and speakers but is as all my TV watching is.

    Is Tetro a film for you? That's a difficult one. Art-house cinema lovers probably will and those who like a drama that is quite complex also but those who want action and something akin to Apocalypse Now, no. It is long, visually rich and dark (like plain chocolate) and accordingly, not for everybody but for those who do, it holds many strengths.
  • comment
    • Author: Wetiwavas
    Francis Ford Coppola latest film "Tetro" marked an awaited comeback for this celebrated American director. In a film that has shades of biographic connections, Mr. Coppola is to be praised for shooting an ambitious film in black and white, something of a departure for him. The images he produces in that velvety medium, which cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. created for the film, are reminders of a bygone era of movie making. The music is provided by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov which mixes classical themes with tango.

    That said, there are inconsistencies in the story. It is clear why Angelo, now self named Tetro, has decided to go back to the roots of his father in Buenos Aires. The stormy relationship between father and son was a complicated affair for starters. There is a lot of resentment between Carlo Tetrocini, the noted conductor and his son, the would be writer, Angelo. A young Benjamin, arrives looking for his long lost brother who has no desire to get reacquainted with the young man. It is clear that the young man's presence weighs heavily on Tetro, who resents the intrusion.

    Tetro begins opening little by little to Bennie, thanks to Miranda, his live-in lover, who realizes the pain inside the man she loves. Tetro's writings are found by his brother a series of unconnected ramblings written in a strange language and code. Trying to make sense of what his brother wanted to say consumes the young man, who has been befriended by a group of bohemian 'portenos' working on a theater performance that makes no sense.

    Add to all that an accident that lands Bennie in a hospital. Tetro going to visit his brother brings him Spanish novels by Roberto Bolano, one of the most obscure and difficult writers in recent memory when young Benjamin does not even speak the language! Then, there is a matter of flashbacks in which clips from films "The Red Shoes" and "The Tales of Hoffmann", both directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, which Bennie remembers being taken by Angelo.

    The film had all the elements for being a good movie, even a great one, but Mr. Coppola decided to throw in a pretentious milieu that includes an interplay with an 'avant-garde' theater group, a trip to the Patagonia in the South of Argentina, as well as a mysterious and flaky film critic named Alone! Now, if that stretching the story too much, we do not know what else Mr. Coppola would have decided to incorporate to the drama he wanted to present. The film uses part of the text by Mauricio Kartun, "Fausta" a theatrical work that does not add anything to the narrative, but which plays in the background as a sort of pretentious performance that does not serve, much less add to the story.

    Perhaps another actor rather than Vincent Gallo would have done justice to Tetro. That said, he goes through the film like in a fog. He shows no chemistry with Maribel Verdu, his lady love, who is seen as Miranda. The real surprise was Alden Ehrenreich's Bennie, who seems to be a charismatic actor with a bright future ahead of him. Klaus Maria Brandauer playing a dual role has limited time on screen, mainly in flashbacks. The Argentine supporting cast does what it can, but unfortunately their characters are not appealing to the viewer. The great Carmen Maura is totally wasted in a role that is more a caricature than a character.
  • comment
    • Author: Saberdragon
    A young boy, Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich), a waiter on a cruise ship that is temporarily down for repairs in Buenos Aries, takes the opportunity to call on his older brother Tetro (Vincent Gallo) who has exiled himself in Argentina to escape some bad things in his past. Tetro wants nothing to do with his family, including Bennie; initially he even refuses to come out of his room to meet him. Through a complicated set of events, the estranged Tetro finally comes to the inevitable reconciliation with Bennie. In the process we get details about why Tetro has taken the path that he has.

    Tetro's girlfriend Miranda is played by Maribel Verdu in a consistently appealing performance. At times I thought that Ehrenreich may be destined to be the next great young actor, but at other times he seemed like a teenager just reading his lines. I do think we are going to see more of this attractive actor. In the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit that my comments on this movie are biased by a visceral dislike of Vince Gallo. Gallo plays Tetro as a most unlikeable character. Throughout the movie I puzzled as to why either Bennie or Miranda would hang around Tetro, given his fits of temper and general unpleasant behavior. Klaus Maria Brandauer, as Tetro's father in flashbacks, plays the role of an egocentric and manipulative symphony orchestra conductor to the hilt.

    The story becomes more absurd and implausible as the movie goes along. Are we to believe that Bennie takes the scrawls of Tetro, that have to be read backwards with a mirror, and turns them into a prize-winning play? Why does Tetro wait until he does to reveal his true relationship to Bennie? And in such a melodramatic manner? And what was with the all-powerful cultural critic named "Alone?" On the one hand we are told that Alone had impeded Tetro's career because of her criticisms, but on the other hand we are told that Tetro had never published. How does one criticize what has never existed?

    Filming the flashbacks in color (using what appears to be a faded red filter) is an interesting touch. Most of the flashbacks are operatic in nature, and some effects left me speculating about their relevance, like the one scene that starts out with dancers on a stage and then has an ocean lapping onto stage left. Nice effect, but what is the meaning of it?

    This could easily be staged as a play and the way the movie is filmed reminded me a lot of the filming of "A Streetcar Named Desire." And there are elements of imitating "8 1/2" as well, particularly the way that Alone and her entourage are filmed.

    As a lover of black and white, I found the excellent use of that medium in this movie a pure delight, but in the end I was less than enthusiastic about the film in general.
  • comment
    • Author: Azago
    Tetro is one of the more complex and realistic character studies to come out this summer, or let alone this year so far. The film has a slower pace and there is not a lot of action and it is very artistically done, which will draw many filmgoers in to see it, but at the same time will probably leave others bored and restless. The plot which I will not give too much away about, consists of a young man investigating the secrets behind his brother's moody behaviour and the torment he has gone through with his father and why he refuses to tell him anything about his father and why he has distanced himself from the family. The film is a fairly well constructed look at families and some of the dysfunction and other problems that go along with it. The film slowly starts to reveal more and more about these characters and their pasts as it goes along and all the while keeping the viewer in suspense and intrigue. Tetro is definitely a smaller film that unfortunately will probably go unnoticed by a lot of people, but I think with the right audience it could and should become a hit. The direction is very stylish and I loved the black and white cinematography which looks gorgeous here and the few scenes actually shot in colour look great too. The script is very intelligent and deconstructs characters and human nature very well and the performances by the main cast all deliver great performances, so everything comes out as a stylish and intriguing art film. Like I mentioned earlier, the film is a little bit slower moving and with it's very unique style and pacing, it did take me a little while to warm up to it and get absorbed into it, but I eventually got right into it and enjoyed it very much. I mentioned in last week's review of Inglourious Basterds that I really liked the film because it had a European feel to it and was very unlike a regular Hollywood film. I would have to say the same about Tetro. It was made by American people, but shot in Argentina in Spain and just how everything is set up and delivered it feels like a European film and borrows the same type of narrative and storytelling that I have seen in so many international films. I happened to really like that about both those films. I saw Tetro in a smaller art house cinema where people who are into those types of films would most likely see it and again I think they would be the perfect audience for this movie. Because of the power of the script, direction and performances, Tetro will stay with you and will have you replaying moments after you have seen it and will probably leave you with some questions of your own because of the complex and sometimes philosophical nature of it. To the right crowd, Tetro will be deemed a masterpiece and I do not know if I belong to such a crowd, but nevertheless I thought it was great and worth checking out for the more adventurous and patient viewers. One of the best films of the year.
  • comment
    • Author: Tar
    It's so nice that this film happened. It's great to have been able to watch it, on the big screen,as the film asks for

    Coppola is respectable, to say the least. I'll want to see whatever he makes, if i sense that he put some of his soul in the project. As it is common knowledge, until 2 years ago, Dracula had been the last film Francis had taken seriously. The 90' were an accumulation of useless and eventually profitable pieces of trash which allowed him to sponsor the rising Sofia, mainly, and another project of Roman. 2 years ago he made a film which i haven't seen, as i'm keeping to a more special occasion; i sense there something in it which requires previous preparation. Now he gives us this Tetro, and i'm pleased he did.

    He envisions the story, he writes the script. It features two writers, and it is the writing of the older, hampered by the interpretation of the younger of that writing that will give us the dramatic arc. It's all about drama, it's all about staging. The story is solved in 2 final staged performances, a play, and a concert at a funeral. He actually blew the ending. For what i guess, he had 2 ideas to unfold the story he had built beautifully until than, and didn't have the cold mind to elect one, instead he made both endings. To my view (minor spoiler), he should have kept the festival alone, and somehow merge the funeral (or the meaning of it) into that festival. Anyhow, this is a remarkable moment. He picks on his Godfather3 operatic finale and remakes it, in a not epic, delusioned way. It was great, despite it's flaws. (major spoiler) It's a moment where the lives of the two brothers is being staged, as written collaboratively by the two brothers, and the true ending is being revealed by the older brother, and the major twist breaks us apart. It's a great card he played on us, and despite some naiveness in the dialogs and an apparent arrogance in Gallo's performance, this is a powerful dramatic piece of cinema, solved through the very script, and that's something rare, an (apparently) invented story which, by itself, makes the film matter. The reason why it works is because he applies several levels of performance: the play the brothers wrote which is being staged, the dialog between those brothers as that play is being staged (that dialog is ostensibly staged as well, through the set and lights) and the cameras whose images fill the screens, which frame both the staged play and the dialog. Carmen Maura's character is pivotal here, as she conducts the larger play, and indeed calls for its ending. Exquisite. From here on, the rest of the film is quite dispensable, except for the very last scene.

    We can sense the autobiographical references, and quite part from the not so interesting exercise of understanding which is true and which placed for dramatic purpose is to know that Francis was actually putting himself in front of us, layering his own mind in the structure of the film and thus building and strong world, though "encoded" where we can sit in and to which we can easily trust our emotions. In a way, we can see Coppola in Tetro in how both are creators to whom being brilliant might mean they are lost. It's a deep matter of (un)balancing art and the artist's soul, and as a consequence, balancing both with the audience that cares about them. Probably Apocalipse had something to do with this.

    Apart from that, this is the best digital photography (?) i've seen so far. Through the b&w, through the scope, through the framing, Coppola and Malaimare do something that hadn't been done probably (and properly) since Allen's Manhattan. What they do is, they enlarge the visual scope, they enlarge landscapes, they detail the interiors as much as they can, and they use all that to achieve the inverse and (because of that) powerful effect of intimacy. Manhattan was probably more powerful (i've never seen it on the big big screen) even due to its 70mm format. But this one hits that sweet spot, in which cinematography matters and merges to what is told. That's why we have contrasts, crowded streets against small apartments, hospital rooms against the huge landscapes of Patagonia. This is about making you understand coziness in front on infinite landscapes. It's a beautiful idea, and we can put this together with only a few others, as films that manage this properly. Also, the lighting is ostensibly artificial in all crucial moments, as we are never allowed to forget that the film is a play with plays inside.

    I'm really happy that we have this new filmmaker called Coppola, 30 years after. This film probably matters more than anything he has made since Apocalipse Now. He doesn't bet his soul and guts here, but he certainly depicts it well enough. Prety well. I'm happy, as if it mattered.

    My opinion: 4/5
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Vincent Gallo Vincent Gallo - Angelo 'Tetro' Tetrocini
    Alden Ehrenreich Alden Ehrenreich - Bennie
    Maribel Verdú Maribel Verdú - Miranda
    Silvia Pérez Silvia Pérez - Silvana
    Rodrigo De la Serna Rodrigo De la Serna - José (as Rodrigo De La Serna)
    Erica Rivas Erica Rivas - Ana (as Érica Rivas)
    Mike Amigorena Mike Amigorena - Abelardo
    Lucas Di Conza Lucas Di Conza - Young Tetro
    Adriana Mastrángelo Adriana Mastrángelo - Ángela
    Klaus Maria Brandauer Klaus Maria Brandauer - Carlo / Alfie
    Leticia Brédice Leticia Brédice - Josefina
    Sofía Gala Sofía Gala - María Luisa (as Sofía Castiglione)
    Jean-François Casanovas Jean-François Casanovas - Enrique
    Carmen Maura Carmen Maura - Alone
    Francesca De Sapio Francesca De Sapio - Amalia
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