Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
USA & Italy & Spain & Argentina, 2009
Cornerhouse, 15 August 2010
It is exhilarating to see Francis Ford Coppola making such epic and intense films once more.
Tetro is a tale of brothers and fathers and the tainted legacy of an artistic family.
There is a fine performance by Vincent Gallo in the title role, very much an underappreciated actor in my view. He usually brings something special – nay, unique – to every role he tackles; and his body of work, the kind of career path he has chosen to trek, is impressive. As Tetro, he is a wounded son who has given up on his family obligations, a writer whose nerve has failed.
The film is predominantly in black and white (flashbacks, to memory and in imagination, and quotes from Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes are in colour) and this effects one’s perception in a curious way. In one sense, it makes the film more naturalistic; but it also adds a layer of artifice, because filming in black and white is done from choice not necessity. And, of course, it evokes other black and white films (A Streetcar Named Desire being one), so allowing Tetro to be placed in – and draw sustenance from – a wider tradition.
This is a great film and it is one that only Coppola could have made.