Since you probably missed director Taylor Hackford’s (Ray, The Devil’s Advocate) Love Ranch during its very limited theatrical release this summer, consider this your notice that it’s actually a well-made, powerfully acted film that is worth checking out on DVD when it is released early next month (November 9th, to be specific). Hackford, directing his Oscar-winning wife Helen Mirren (The Queen, Red) and Oscar winner Joe Pesci (My Cousin Vinny, Casino) in this tale of working class struggles (as Hackford calls it, in the DVD extras), focuses on the strained relationship between a husband (Pesci) and wife (Mirren) who together run the titular Love Ranch – the first legalized brothel in Reno, Nevada. Based on a true story (though there’s been much complaining about the creative license taken with the actual time line and some key events), screenwriter Mark Jacobson (American Gangster) centers his script around the unexpectedly loving relationship that develops when Argentinian heavyweight boxer Armando Bruza (Sergio Peris-Menchata, who holds his own with Mirren and Pesci) moves to the ranch to train and finds himself falling for the tough madame Grace Bontempo (Mirren).

Mirren and Pesci are a dynamite duo as the Bontempos, capturing the nuances of their relationship from the first scene – there’s some love and respect between the two, but it’s clear that it’s mostly a business relationship, with Charlie (Pesci) neglecting his hard-working wife in order to indulge himself with the women he sells. Pesci’s working with some kind of a Southern accent here, which I can’t remember him doing before, but he pulls it off nicely – and he lets Charlie wear his weakness and uncertainties on his sleeve while he struts around pretending to be the big man that he knows he’s not. Mirren handles Grace with her usual grace, showing her frustration and disappointment in her marriage and barely concealed despondency when she discovers that she’s been diagnosed with Cancer early in the film. Relative newcomer Sergio Peris-Mencheta (Resident Evil: Afterlife) portrays a tough-minded boxer with a painful past, and manages to earn a nice love scene with Helen Mirren for his troubles.

Now, it’s not a perfect film; some of the dialogue feels a bit forced and it’s not always clear where the story is heading, but there’s much more to like here than to disparage.

Zach’s Rating: B
Perfect For: Fans of Helen Mirren looking for another powerhouse performance
Stay Away if: You’re expecting to watch a movie that will be on your Oscar list this year

To purchase Love Ranch, visit Amazon

Be Sociable, Share!