VIDEO: The trailer for Tetro
Francis Ford Coppola made one perfect picture, The Conversation, in 1974. Since Apocalypse Now, though, he seems to have lost his way in the narrative jungle. He's still lost in Tetro, but for a while it's worth watching him try to find his way out.
The eponymous American expatriate (Vincent Gallo) is that dreary stereotype, the blocked writer. In flight from his past, he's living in Buenos Aires with Miranda (Maribel Verdú), a woman highly tolerant of his moodiness.
When Tetro's younger brother, Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich in a terrific debut), drops in unexpectedly, it sets off much brooding about Art and Family and flashbacks to an increasingly complicated and operatic story. Shot mostly in a chiaroscuro black and white, with color interludes for the flashbacks and for surreal ballet sequences in the mode of Michael Powell's The Red Shoes, Tetro rewards the eye. But long before Bennie sets fire to the buffet table in a nutty götterdämmerung, the story boggles the mind.