You shall not commit adultery.
For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
…… ……… …….
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress.
Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Psalm 25:11, 16-18
Actor John Turturo, who also writes and directs, calls this, his third film, “a down-and-dirty musical love story.” He is right on both counts. Set in a working class district of NYC, the characters often sing karaoke-like a pop song to express their thoughts and feelings. And there are some sex scenes and scatological language that will make this a difficult film to use with a church group, even though the characters operate within a decidedly Christian values system, with both the wife and erring husband involved in a Roman Catholic congregation.
Nick (James Gandolfini) has the interesting last name of Murder, though a more fitting name could be derived from the commandment following the one against murder (see Exodus 20:13-14). When his wife Kitty (Susan Sarandon) discovers a love poem he had written for his mistress, she calls him a whoremaster. One of the many services she has provided him through the years is an unusual one—” I trim your nose hairs, you (louse)!” She demands that he leave. He argues with her in front of their three grown daughters, and then bursts into the song “A Man Without Love.” Out in the street two garbage men sing along as they collect the garbage, others, including a kid on a bike.
It seems that Nick, an ironworker repairing bridges around the city, has been living a double life, transferring his affections to a younger woman from Britain Tula (Kate Winslet). The one thing in common she has with Kitty being red hair. Nick is far from being a handsome hunk, but Tula was drawn to him as a man’s man. To increase his sexual prowess he decides to submit to a circumcision operation. The exchange between him and his best pal and co-worker Angelo (Steve Buscemi) is but one of many amusing exchanges. Nick, “Are you circumcised?” Angelo, “What?” Nick, “Are you circumcised?” Angelo, “Circularized?” Nick, “No, circumcised.” Nick, “My circulation’s fine.” Nick struggles with his feelings for the two women, and Kitty calls in her Cousin Bo “Christopher Walken” to help her deal with their situation. The three daughters also have their problems, especially Baby (Mandy Moore), the youngest, who is obsessed with the no-account Fryburg (Bobby Cannavale), a wannabe rock and roll singer. Nick’s Mother (Elaine Stritch) also adds to the humor when she visits him following his surgery in the hospital and spews forth a tirade in which she declares that he in his unfaithfulness he is just like his father and grandfather. Nick decides that his long relationship with Kitty is of more value than his liaison with Tula. He makes his confession to his priest, receiving absolution, but will Kitty relent and forgive him?
As I wrote at the beginning, the film is too ribald for most church groups, but is well worth the time of film lovers. A further plot complication that arises has to do with the second part of the title, the result of cigarette smoking being far less glamorous than it was depicted in those old films in which heroes and heroines were always lighting up. I saw the film on our Demand section of our cable system, but it also available now on DVD.