At the climactic revelation scene in Tetro I was so hoping for a tribute to Chinatown where the character of Bennie, played here by Alden Ehrenreich (in a good performance only hampered perhaps by his somewhat uncanny resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio), would slap his older brother Tetro (played by Vincent Gallo) and Tetro would say “I’m your father, I’m your brother, I’m your father, I’m your brother and your father”. But alas, it didn’t happen. Tetro is written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and is supposed to be his return to his filmmaking roots, i.e., actually making a film he wants and making it his way. And it’s great to have him back. Unfortunately, it’s with a film that doesn’t work as well as one would like. It’s certainly a beautiful movie to look at with film nourish black and white cinematography by Mihai Malanimare, Jr. The basis to the story (a brother looks up his estranged older brother in Buenos Aires and finds out the family secret, though he finds it out about fifteen or twenty minutes after the audience figures it out) is solid. But it never really connects the way it should for two reasons. The first is Vincent Gallo, who is, to say the least, not that strong in this part and tends to drag the film down with him (there are some scenes where he seems to be improvising, weakening the whole emotional impact of what is going on). The second reason is that when all is said and done, Coppola so wants the big secret to have potentially tragic consequences; and it doesn’t. Bennie finds out Tetro’s really his father and decides to kill himself because of it. The reaction is not that believable and a tad over the top. The movie then tends to get muddled plot wise as Coppola doesn’t quite seem to know where to go from there. There are some other oddities, especially scenes from two plays that don’t resemble plays in the least and the appearance by Carmen Maura, one of my favorite actresses, in a role that doesn’t seem fully explored or thought out. There’s no indication that Coppola has fully lost his touch; this one just comes across as a film by someone who made a couple of boo boos while making it. Hopefully, the next film will work better.

So tell me what you think.

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