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Romeo is Bleeding (1993)

by on 2011/03/24

“I’ll tell you what makes love so frightening – it’s that you don’t own it …it owns you.”

* * * *

A dirty cop. A garbage bag full of filthy money. An unholy trinity of dames.

Romeo is Bleeding is a blood-splattered neo-noir starring Gary Oldman (Sid and Nancy), Juliette Lewis (From Dusk Till Dawn, Whip It), Lena Olin (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) and Annabella Sciorra (Cop Land).

Oldman plays Jack Grimaldi, a New York cop who isn’t content with his small wrought iron and brick house in the ‘burbs. He has big dreams – big dreams that require stacks of cash. To make good on this plans and to “feed the hole,” Jack’s taking payments from gangsters in exchange for providing them with tips on key federal witnesses’ whereabouts.

Jack’s mob connection Sal, played by the untouchable Michael Wincott (The Crow), keeps the envelopes full of cash coming as the bullet-ridden bodies start to pile up.

Racked with guilt, Jack starts to get twitchy in a way only Oldman can –  a jaw-clicking, neck-contorting, veins-in-forehead-popping case of the twitches. Signature Oldman.

Worse for Jack, the crime boss Don Falcone (Rod Scheider) is annoyed with him. People that annoy the crime boss tend to lose toes.

Jack isn’t simply consumed by one mortal sin – greed – he’s also consumed by lust. Directed by Peter Medak, Romeo is Bleeding doesn’t do anything by half measure. In this case, it isn’t the classic love triangle, it is more of a sharp-angled love rhombus.

The women in this movie are incomparable. The pure madonna of the piece, Jack’s wife Natalie (Sciorra), is funny, sexy and complex. Jack’s mistress, Sheri the cocktail waitress, is Lewis at her woman-child, ditzy best.

Mona Demarkov, the Russian hit woman, is played by Lena Olin, who is a staggering force of nature in the role. As Mona, Olin is a lithe, furious panther that has just eaten the zookeeper and is now looking for his delicious family.

With stocking’ed thighs like bear traps, arms like nooses, Olin puts the fatal in femme fatale. She’s fantastic. Fantastic.

Amidst this cadre of feminine fascination, Oldman plays the doomed, vice-ridden anti-hero with a commitment that matches the sublime Olin. Together they are like a violent chemical reaction.

Fuelled by an incredible script, clever plotting, Jack is the perfect film noir hero, creating his own hell through the choices he makes.

“People think that Hell is fire and brimstone and the Devil poking you in the butt with a pitchfork, but it’s not. Hell is when you should have walked away, but you didn’t.”

Watch the severed arms, missing toes, blood and dirt from a shallow grave fly in this remarkable neo-noir.

In fact, I think this moment calls for a little Tom Waits’ Romeo is Bleeding, the song for which the movie is named:

“…Romeo is bleeding as he gives the man his ticket
and he climbs to the balcony at the movies
and he’ll die without a whimper
like every hero’s dream
just an angel with a bullet
and Cagney on the screen.”

* * * *



100 minutes

Rated R for bloody dismembering violence and nudity

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5 Comments
  1. andymovieman permalink

    i think romeo is bleeding is still gary oldman’s best movie besides air force one, leon, batman begins, fifth element and state of grace. i’m glad it got a cult reception even though it didn’t do well in the box office. they should put in any cult movies book so that everyone and i mean everyone should see it. romeo is bleeding is better than the dark knight. thats what i think.

  2. andymovieman permalink

    romeo is bleeding is brilliant. it is a cross between the godfather and basic instinct.

  3. andymovieman permalink

    no one can play jack grimaldi like gary oldman. gary oldman made the movie great. gary oldman is just as good as michael keaton, johnny depp, kurt russell, and mickey rourke.

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