OPERA LOVER, THE
(directors: Ron Lazzeretti/Venturino Liberatore; screenwriters: from original story by Ron Lazzeretti/Ray Bastounes; cinematographer: Gary Katz; editor: Brian Clark; cast: Tom Bastounes (George Krikkos), Monica Zaffarano (Gina Spenza), Megan Moore Burns (Jill), Dean Bastounes (Dean Krikkos), Nick Bastounes (Gus Krikkos), Tom White (Senator Evans), Melanie Dean Moore (Bibi), Karen Vaccaro (Lil), Robert Altman (Marty), Coren Caldwell (Andy), David Lively (Michael); Runtime: 93; Gifthorse picture; 1999)
“This was a likable but not a particularly moving tale.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A family drama/comedy about destiny and the choices one makes. This indie film is set in Chicago. It compares the protagonist’s working-class background in the produce market with the high culture of the opera world he rejected.
Jill (Burns) divorces George Krikkos (Tom Bastounes), as the final straw comes when she catches him sneaking home late at night after a tryst. She will be getting married again shortly and taking with her their young son (Coren Caldwell). In this one week period of George’s life, there will be other traumatic changes: his father will be retiring after selling the produce business where he still works, as George stays on with his brother Dean to work for the new bosses. But…the biggest surprise, is when his former girlfriend and classmate of 20 years ago arrives in Chicago to perform. She is now an internationally famous opera diva, known as Gina Spenza (Monica Zaffarano).
George seems in a rut…not enthusiastic about his work or his prospects, going out with a girlfriend (Moore) who borders on being a psycho, and wondering what would have been if he didn’t give up a potential singing career for the produce business! He gets a chance to relive the past, as he meets Gina and they rekindle their romance. She is currently seeing a distinguished, silver-haired senator (White) from New Hampshire, and is on a 5-day whirlwind tour of Chicago. They innocently date and the next day she gets him to sing an opera aria at a senior citizen center, which is well received in the newspapers. This gets his picture in the paper with her and the attention of the jealous senator, who immediately comes to Chicago where he puts on the enraged boyfriend act.
Gina’s managers have a divided opinion about giving George a shot at singing something spontaneously in her show, but she sides with giving him a chance as she aims to make opera more accessible to the public and not to be only for the purist. George’s battle is with his inner demons, as he is fearful to sing in public and can never finish what he starts.
The film ultimately is about whom does she love more — the struggling artist or the prominent politician. I bet you can guess!
This was a likable but not a particularly moving tale. The characters were pleasing, but no more. The situation they were in seemed realistic, and the way they handled themselves gave the film its comedy sparks. But what the film was missing, were romantic sparks. What the film also lacked was a more telling story and a bit more tension. It seemed to be played too loose and easy. Nevertheless, I loved the atmosphere created — of mixing the stock workingmen types with the stock opera types, and with George cutting a nifty path to his destiny between his two contrasting fields. As for the opera singing — let me shout from the rafters, Bravo… !!!
REVIEWED ON 12/25/2000 GRADE: B-