Love Ranch - Blu-ray Review
By Jeff Swindoll Dec 1, 2010, 16:19 GMT
Inspired by an incredible true story... As proprietors of Nevada\'s first legalized brothel, Grace (Helen Mirren) and Charlie Bontempo (Joe Pesci) aren\'t your typical married couple. When Grace falls for Bruza (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), a heavyweight boxer contracted to Charlie, passions erupt, leading to murderous consequences. ...more
“My mom said that there was more money in running whores than being one.”
Love Ranch tells the tale of legalized prostitution in Nevada, but instead of focusing on the titillating aspects of it, the film looks behind the scenes at the misters and madams running the joint. Such is the tale of Grace and Charlie Bontempo.
Charlie Bontempo (Joe Pesci) is the owner of the Love Ranch, a legalized brothel in the deserts of Nevada. Charlie may act the big man but it’s really his wife Grace (Helen Mirren) who keeps the hooker home fires burning by being a surrogate material figure to the girls (Bai Ling, Taryn Manning, Gina Gershon) who do the work.
She puts up with his excesses and his sampling of the merchandise, his current go to girl is Christina (Scout Taylor-Compton). Things change however when Grace finds out that she’s dying of cancer, a secret she keeps from Charlie.
When Charlie takes on an Argentinean boxer named Armando (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) and he takes a liking to Grace things get even more interesting.
Love Ranch is based on the story of the Mustang Ranch, which became the first legalized brothel in Nevada in 1971. I’m not sure if it was the Mustang Ranch, but I do recall seeing an episode of 20/20 profiling legalized prostitution in Nevada. A couple of things struck me.
First, whenever the camera turned on the working girls they seemed to repeat the same mantra for selling themselves. It seemed very scripted and the girls were shown in various fun activities that made it seem they really liked working at the place. The second was the retiree customer who was interviewed.
He was very realistic about his patronage, but the prostitute tried to talk him up (probably for repeat patronage), but he just shrugged her off. It seemed somewhat sad, although grandpa was getting his rocks off. Love Ranch really emphasizes the behind-the-scenes aspect of the “love” industry.
If any sex is shown it’s not done in a manner to titillate where other films make the whorehouse seem like a good old time. It seems worn and seamy in Love Ranch. Taking the focus off the “fun” and onto the smalltime gangster, Charlie, and business woman, Grace, also drains the fun out of the picture.
The drama is interesting though, just maybe not what you were expecting. Mirren, who is also the director’s wife by the way, offers a weary regality to Grace.
Pesci plays a variation of his fast talking gangster who dreams big but his toupee is distracting in high definition. All in all it’s an interesting look, but not one that is overly memorable.
Love Ranch is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (1.78:1). Special features are in high definition. It starts off with an 8 minute introduction by director Taylor Hackford and Mirren.
Next are 57 minutes of deleted scenes (that they talk about in the introduction) that have an optional commentary. Hackford also offers a commentary on the film. If you use “Heartbreak Mode” the deleted scenes appear in the film.
Love Ranch takes what might’ve been an interesting film but seems to fall short of it. However, there’s enough of interest to warrant a viewing, especially for the characterization offered by Mirren. If you want a real happy ending you’ll have to travel to a brothel in Nevada and offer your credit card.
Visit the DVD database for more information.
FROM THE WEB
Further Reading on M&CBai Ling Biography -
Bai Ling Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesGina Gershon Biography -
Gina Gershon Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesHelen Mirren Biography -
Helen Mirren Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesTaryn Manning Biography -
Taryn Manning Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sites
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