"Illuminata" is more or less about finding love and keeping it over time. A restless playwright, Tuccio (John Turturro), has written a play for his lover, Rachel (Katherine Borowitz), who is also the company's acclaimed actress and manager. Their relationship is, shall we say, rocky.
The film takes place around the turn of the century and includes lots of scenes of plays being acted out, not unlike "Shakespeare in Love," of which "Illuminata" seems to be a curious bastard child. The issue of love is also dealt with by more than one couple. There are the curious theater owners, Astergourd and Pallenchio (Beverly D'Angelo and Donal McCann). There's the critic, Umberto Bevalaqua (Christopher Walken), who has his eye on one of the company, Marco (Bill Irwin). There's the aging diva, Celimene (Susan Sarandon), who has her eye on Tuccio. And there's the affair between the two young company leads (Rufus Sewell and Georgina Cates).
This film is John Turturro's baby, as he serves as both screenwriter and director. What he proposes to do is teach us something profound about love and human nature. What I could not help wondering throughout the entirety of the film is this: What in the hell can actors teach us about anything? Some actors, possibly Turturro himself, can't even teach us about acting. Show me an actor who can wipe his own ass, and I'll show you an actor who thinks he has something to teach the world.
The problem here is that nobody ever stops performing and consequently, when the script calls for honesty and emotion, it just seems as though the actors simply give different performances. Somebody is pouring their heart out to somebody else and it's like watching a Taster's Choice commercial from a slightly different angle.
To spread the word about this Illuminata review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.