Written and Directed by: Peter Capaldi
Starring: Ian Hart, Kelly Macdonald, Brian Cox, Alun Armstrong, Tommy Flanagan
Released by: Universal Studios
My Advice: Don’t bother.
Toni Cocozza (Hart) is one of those people born in the wrong time. He’s fascinated with Vegas’ Golden Age, the Rat Pack, and especially Frank Sinatra. Toni lives some of his dreams by crooning a “Strictly Sinatra” repertoire in Glasgow lounges. While he has a good voice, he has Brady Brunch-permed hair and looks kind of goofy. He’s not going to be headlining on the Strip any time soon. Toni’s life starts to resemble Frank’s a little too closely when circumstances get him in close with the Glasgow Mob. He becomes the mascot for this group of “legitimate businessmen”. One member of this mob, Chisolm (Cox), tells tales to Toni of his time in Vegas during â€˜the good old days’. Of course, Chisolm asks Toni for a favor or two, to help out a little. His girlfriend Irene (Macdonald) gets worried when the favors and the jobs get bigger and more dangerous. Can Toni give up the good life before it gets him killed?
[ad#longpost]The Brits have sent over the Pond small films that kick Hollywood behemoths in their over budgeted asses: The Crying Game, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Sliding Doors. Strictly Sinatra is not in their caliber. First off, Toni Cocozza is a bit of a dweeb. Now if I were a Mob boss, he would be the last guy I’ve have on a job. Ten minutes in police custody and Toni would fall apart like a wet paper bag. So why is Chisolm using Toni to pick up drugs and help collect protection money? The suspension of disbelief can only be so powerful. And we only get two songs out of Ian Hart’s character–only two. They don’t even show his performance on the big talent show. Since the focus is supposedly on him and Sinatra, shouldn’t there be more?
That’s the question you ask throughout the movie. It strays very little from this formula: Good Guy Falls into Bad Crowd -> Good Guy Convinced He Can Handle Himself -> Girlfriend and Older Mentor Try to Convince Him Otherwise -> Good Guy Comes to Senses and Redeems Himself. If you don’t twist the formula somehow, you need strong writing and compelling performances to stop the audience from skipping ahead in their heads. Unfortunately, the film’s dialogue is very boring. The performances are good, especially Macdonald and Cox, but they’re not great.
I found myself easily distracted while watching this. The mail’s here. (pause) A documentary on coal miners on TV. (pause) Look at all those clothes that must be ironed. (pause) You get the idea. And since there are no added features on the disc, it was that much easier to pause. Frankly, I can’t see anyone being interested in Strictly Sinatra. I sure wasn’t.