Romance & Cigarettes Cover Why is it that one-person thinks that they can disrespect another person, by cheating on him or her? Is it something to do with love? Is it something to do with lust? Or better yet, is it something to do with this film Directed by John Turturro; and Starring: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, and Eddie Izzard. It was made in 2005, and lasts for 100-minutes

Romance & Cigarettes

Now what do you think that constitution worker, Nick Murder (James Gandolfini), does next, once his wife, Kitty (Susan Sarandon), finds out that he is having an affair with a Yorkshire tart named Tula (Kate Winslet)?

Does he have a song and dance with the whole neighbourhood about it? Yes – internally, he does – but on top of that, he is shunned by his family – he reminisces with a policeman – he talks sh*t with his pal Angelo (Steve Buscemi) – and he has a circumcision too. 

Meanwhile, desperate for some closure in this matter, Kitty visits Father Gene Vincent (Eddie Izzard) at his church, so that he can help her with this dilemma. Eventually, this meeting of minds then leads Kitty to make an attempt at confronting Tula head on, with her Cousin Bo (Christopher Walken) by she side.

Unfortunately, though, Tula is not at home, instead, she is ‘trying out’ Nick’s circumcision – so to speak.

However, as time ticks on, and emotions are aired, a number of things play out that make matter much more strained for all involved. For a start, Kitty and Nick’s daughter, Baby (Mandy Moore) wants to get married – to her parents chagrin. Next, Nick has a heart attack – one in which he has to be hospitalised for. And finally, Kitty has a attack of her own – when she attacks Tula at her place of work.

Therefore, with all of this combined, that is why what next transpires is a somewhat sober affair all in all – as genetics leads to enlightenment – enlightenment leads to a parting of ways – and a parting of ways leads to absolution encompassed within matters of life and death.


Now there is a scene in ‘Romance and Cigarettes’ that stylistically will give you the basic impression of how this film plays out (plus, it is my favourite part of this movie too). It is the scene where Christopher Walken’s character explains to Susan Sarandon’s character about how he was cheated on by his wife. Please note, this is a flashback scene, where, whilst Christopher is singing to the Tom Jones classic ‘Delilah’, he confronts his wife, stabs her in the chest after she has slept with her lover, before, he, his wife, and the surrounding policemen, all do a song and dance number to this same tune.

Here, have a look at this catchy clip to see what I mean...

OK, I know that this does look somewhat surreal and silly. Nevertheless, I have to admit, that the majority of this film is a somewhat surreal and silly experience. Well, it is a musical of sorts – one that tells’ the story of a mans troubled journey through infidelity, absolution, and beyond.  Moreover, once you can handle the style that this film is presented in, it is a very good film – with each different strand symbiotically placating a new flavor and texture on what I would call an ‘urbane kitchen sink melodrama’.

Romance and Cigarettes

Granted, at first, the style does take some time getting used to – because it does come across as overt in nature, considering that the underpinning of this film is steeped in reality. Plus, in addition to this, some of the characters do not seem to have any form of physical interaction where the plot in concerned – such as those played by Aida Turturro, Barbara Sukowa, Bobby Cannavale and Mary-Louise Parker – thus making their presence feel more like reinforced exposition if anything. Also, there are ‘sub-tales’ within this tale, all of which act as nothing more than contextual reinforcement – like the Christopher Walken scene mentioned previously – which makes this surreal musical urbane comedy, a real alternate experience. 

Kate Winslets Tits in Romance & Cigarettes
Listen, I know what I have just said does put ‘Romance and Cigarettes’ in a bad light. However, in a strange way, all of this ‘negativity’ does not drown out what a charming film it is. For a start, all of the songs sung are very funky – heck, they even got a ‘musical pariah’ such as myself tapping my feet at times, screaming for more. Next, I have to say that the actors are all really great in this film – and I was partially impressed by Kate Winslet’s tits and Yorkshire accent, Christopher Walken’s and Steve Buscemi’s congenial presence, and James Gandolfini and Susan Sarandon mannered nature. After that, the story, though simple overall, does have a grounded zest to it – and really hits home by the end of the movie. And finally, I have to salute the makers of this film for having a not-so-Hollywood ending to this piece – as it did really make me think of the grander arc to this tale.

Personally speaking, I do not think that ‘Romance and Cigarettes’ would be everybody’s cup of tea. It is an amalgamation of an alternate style, a grounded story, and a surrealist execution, all mixed up into a ‘musical’. Though, if you do want to get a good look at Kate giggling about in her underwear, or alternatively, like your musicals with more pathos and less cheese – this is defiantly a film for you.

Well, if a ‘musical pariah’ like me likes it – I am sure someone with similar tastes can too.