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Did you know that SIFF was originally slated for the world premiere Francis Ford Coppola's latest? It's true - he turned down a Cannes berth

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SIFF Review: Tetro

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Did you know that SIFF was originally slated for the world premiere Francis Ford Coppola's latest? It's true - he turned down a Cannes berth in favor of a spotlight showing at SIFF. And then Cannes upped the ante by giving him the opening night slot in the "Director's Fortnight" sidebar. In other words, they made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Okay, so we don't get the world premiere, but we do get Tetro and "An Evening With Francis Ford Coppola," who will be at the June 10 presentation to talk about the film in an onstage Q&A following the screening (details after the jump). And for those willing to pony up $125 for the deluxe package, there's a reception with Coppola before the screening. Co-star Alden Ehrenreich will also attend the reception and the screening (Vincent Gallo, previously announced, was forced to cancel his appearance).

Tetro is Coppola's first original screenplay since The Conversation in 1974 [which plays at SIFF on Thursday, June 11], an archly melodramatic tale of brothers, father and sons struggling for acceptance and affirmation. Gallo tempers his often tetchy screen persona as the emotionally scarred son of a arrogant and self-absorbed classical music conductor (Klaus Maria Brandauer), a man who ruthlessly cultivated his reputation and his ego at his son's expense. "Angelo's dead. My name is Tetro," he proclaims to his adoring kid brother Bennie (newcomer Alden Ehrenreich), who tracks him to a Buenas Ares neighborhood a decade after he fled his father and abandoned Bennie. By turns sullen, compassionate, indignant and just plain angry, Gallo's Tetro is a modern take on a tragic victim, a would-be writer whose autobiographical scribblings became too painful to continue.

Coppola modulates intimate scenes and mercurial changes in temperament like a master conductor bringing a delicate touch to a bombastic score, drawing rich performances from Gallo and Maribel Verdú (as Tetro's protective girlfriend) and a complex emotional relationship between this unusual but thoroughly convincing couple and Ehrenreich's Bennie. Shot in luminous black and white on digital video, it is a lovingly crafted and visually exquisite film constantly brought low by the operatic revelations and Oedipal weight of past betrayals. It's a personal film, no doubt; Coppola claims the roots were drawn from the contentious relationship between his father and his brother. But there is no resonance as he unveils past tragedies and terrible betrayals of trust, only a kind of incredulity as he heaps all this weight on the tormented Tetro and sinks the film under the pretentions of his Greek drama in modern dress.

Tetro Egyptian 7 p.m. Wed., June 10.

 
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