Strictly Sinatra
Bad perm. Toni and Irene (Hart and Macdonald) fall in love just before things get messy...
dir-scr Peter Capaldi
with Ian Hart, Kelly Macdonald, Brian Cox, Alun Armstrong, Tommy Flanagan, Iain Cuthbertson, Una McLean, Jamie Murphy, Paul Dennan, Jimmy Yuill, Alex McAvoy, Richard E Grant
release US 29.Jun.01; UK 9.Nov.01
Universal
01/UK 1h37

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
toni cocozza sings... Yet another British crime flick, this time set amongst lounge singers in Glasgow. Nothing terribly new then, but not a bad film really. Toni Cocozza (Hart) only sings Frank Sinatra songs in his act ... until a mob boss (Cuthbertson) requests something else. When he gives in there, it's only a small step to accepting a drink from the local hood (Cox), after which he becomes entangled in the underworld, much to the dismay of his loyal keyboardist (Armstrong) and his new girlfriend (Macdonald). Soon the favours are escalating out of control ... but Cocozza knows that this may be his one big chance at fame, and maybe the price isn't too steep after all.

This essentially grim story is told with a breezy tone that lets us know from the outset that no one is really in danger, no matter what might happen. This undermines all of the suspense and leaves the film as not much more than a gentle romantic comedy with seedy undertones. But it's still relatively enjoyable due mostly to Hart's central performance. Despite a terrible perm and a vaguely dodgy singing voice (both of which are precisely the point!), he wins us over as the naive but charming Toni, wanting to have success, romance and loyal friends, but finding it hard to achieve all at once. And the surrounding cast is quite good as well, although writer-director Capaldi's attempt to turn this into a '50s-style Rat Pack caper never really comes together. At least he gives the film a sense of visual style that adds to the story and creates what little tension there is in the contrived, formulaic plot. Yes, it's all quite corny, but there's just enough charm at the core to keep us on Toni's side.
language, themes, violence cert 15 27.Sep.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
toni cocozza sings... send your review to Shadows... "Zzzzz! Oh my what a boring film, not even always so sexy Alun Armstrong could do anything about this!" --Lena Karlsson, Malmoe, Sweden 9.Jun.02
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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