Love Ranch Movie Review
By Anne Brodie Jul 2, 2010, 17:21 GMT
The drama is based on the story of Joe and Sally Conforte, proprietors of the Mustang Ranch, the first legalized house of prostitution in Nevada. The venture ended in violence as a boxer, Oscar Bonavena, was gunned down at the ranch in 1976, suspected of having an affair with the madam Sally. ...more
What can’t Helen Mirren do? Her brilliantly chameleon-like abilities are apparently limitless. There’s a joke in the film when someone asks her crippled Nevada brothel owner character Grace ‘Who do you think you are? The Queen of England?” And of course, she is that too.
Mirren brings all of her luminous beauty, not disguised under her rather sedate seventies wardrobe, with soulfulness we wouldn’t expect from a woman in her job but of course, must expect. People are unexpected and Mirren epitomises it.
Sergio Peris-Mencheta, a Spanish actor who plays Bruza her young lover, is a find. He is a boxer Grace’s husband (Joe Pesci) has taken under his wing, has animal magnetism, something we haven’t seen lately, plus heart, sweetness and tenderness mixed with the violence of his calling.
Bruza falls utterly, selflessly in love with Grace, which is dangerous to his health as Charlie (Pesci) is a brutally violent, selfish man, and criminal. He neglects Grace until he discovers she has interests elsewhere and his ‘love’ turns to jealous ferocity. Who does ferocity better than Pesci? His all consuming evil contrasts well with Bruza’s warm-hearted innocence.
Love Ranch is a character study, Grace’s story; an older woman resigned to a loveless marriage and proscribed life, who has a shot at new life with a hot young Mexican fighter. It is exciting, romantic and incredibly moving. The kicker is that its tragedy unfolds and resonates right down to South America, where Bruza was a hero.
There’s a lot going on in this loosely fact-based film on the proprieters of the first legal brothel in Nevada. It is a fascinating and dangerous world, sleazy and compelling. Gina Gershon, Tary Manning and Bai Ling are their girls, who not only enjoy their job but also adore their boss Grace. Charlie describes them as “psychotic whores”, and has affairs with them. It’s a life cobbled out of lawlessness, control and mob connections but there is underlying humanity.
Charlie’s the only fly in the ointment and in Pesci’s talented hands, he is unforgettable. He’s sociopathic, involved in shady mob and government dealings, sure of his power and influence, believing himself innocent of murder and sinned against. Yet another muscular performance from the king of mean.
It’s an amazing story of brothel owners who not only fought to legalise prostitution in Nevada but also opened the first and made a go of it for a long while. Strangely, for a film about a brothel, there is surprising little sex or salaciousness.
Hackford knows how to make a story get under our skin; his sensitivity and efforts have paid off. Love Ranch is certain to be remembered during awards season and could land the big prizes. It’s Hackford’s best film and deserves a wide release, although at this moment, it isn’t getting one.
Written by Marc Jacobson
Directed by Taylor Hackford
Opens: June 30th (Wednesday)
MPAA: Rated R for sexual content, pervasive language and some violence
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 sitesJoe Pesci Biography -
Joe Pesci Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sites
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