One From the Heart (1982)

Francis Ford Coppola directs Frederic Forrest, Teri Garr and Raul Julia in this art musical where a Las Vegas couple break-up and go on dates with fantasy figures.

The flop that bankrupted American Zoetrope. Allegedly Coppola directed this from inside a caravan full of video monitors, avoiding stepping on set to interact in person with human cast members. It cost $26 million and that money is all there onscreen. It made less than a million at the box office during its entire run and that’s completely believable too. Overspend, hubris and distant humanity define every soulless frame. A fantastic looking film about boring characters. There are moments of magical realism, surprising nudity and dictatorial excess that make you feels like you should like or at least respect this more. But the basic plot is wafer thin and those populating it such unrepentant losers that it all feels like visual dazzle dazzle in the service of a cynic’s wank fantasy. As an off key ode to the MGM musicals of old, the completely studio bound recreation of Las Vegas is a magnificent folly, the intoxicating use of colour means there’s rarely a boring shot and the Tom Waits soundtrack has it mumbling, whisky soaked charms. However, much like Teri Garr’s window dressing shrew of a protagonist, this is all artificial diorama building that goes nowhere. Attempts to revive this as a cult item or an overlooked jewel will always hit the brick wall that it just ain’t much fun to sit through. Frustrating.


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