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At Theaters: 8/27/1999 On Video: 1/18/2000
Rated: R Length: ? hr. ? min.
Internet: Web Site Movie ID: 089913
Studio: Artisan Entertainment
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Storyline Heading

The ambitious, restless writer, Tuccio is the resident playwright of a struggling repertory company, whose members reflect the European melting pot that is New York at the turn of the century. Tuccio is eager to stage his unfinished new play, Illuminata, but the theater owners are not convinced the work is ready.

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Movie Type (Genre) Heading
Romantic - This talky comedy-drama will only appeal to older, patient moviegoers and fans of the cast and director-star John Turturro. Teens are likely to bored, as are children, for whom the film is inappropriate, due to sexual content.
Cast and Crew Heading
Wri/Dir/Actor: John Turturro (Rounders)
Katherine Borowitz (Internal Affairs)
Susan Sarandon (Stepmom)
Christopher Walken (Blast From The Past)
Beverly D'Angelo (National Lampoon's Vacation)
Producer: John Penotti (A Price Above Rubies)
Production Notes Heading
About The Production
Content Heading
PROFANITY: Occasional use of strong profanity.
SEX/NUDITY: A few sexual situations involving nudity.
VIOLENCE: Nothing beyond a slap and some hair-pulling, plus a hit with a cane.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Some alcohol and cigarettes.
COMEDY: A number of broadly comic situations, a lot of which is sex-involved.

Critic's Review Heading
Illuminata is John Turturro's love letter to early-20th Century theater. And, while not as effective as some other productions-within-a-film, such as Bullets Over Broadway or 1998's Shakespeare in Love, Illuminata still manages to develop an engaging storyline that incorporates uneven drama with sporadically amusing comedy. While the film occasionally suffers from the overambitious flaw of trying to tell the stories of too many characters, virtuoso performances by Katherine Borowitz, Christopher Walken, Susan Sarandon, and Bill Irwin help balance things out. For those who enjoy theater and live performances, Illuminata is almost a must-see.

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Opinion Heading

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The difficulty of love enduring over time is the central theme of ILLUMINATA. The ambitious, restless writer, Tuccio (John Turturro) is the resident playwright of a struggling repertory company, whose members reflect the European melting pot that is New York at the turn of the century. Tuccio is eager to stage his unfinished new play, Illuminata, but the theater owners, Astergourd and Pallenchio (Beverly D'Angelo and Donal McCann), are not convinced the work is ready. The playwright has written the script specifically for the woman he loves, the company's acclaimed actress! manager, Rachel (Katherine Borowitz).

When the young actor Piero (Matthew Sussman) collapses during a performance of Cavalleria Rusticana, Tuccio boldly contrives to substitute Illuminata for an audience that includes the powerful, flamboyantly foppish drama critic Umberto Bevalaqua (Christopher Walken).

Bevalaqua savages the play, but the company sees an opportunity for a reappraisal by the influential reviewer. Bevalaqua has become infatuated with a handsome cast member, Marco (Bill Irwin), who reluctantly agrees to a private meeting with the critic, who in turn attempts a unique seduction.

Meanwhile, a celebrated but aging theatrical diva, Celimene (Susan Sarandon), much impressed with Illuminata, takes a scheming professional and personal interest in Tuccio, offering him the chance for international fame as her personal playwright (and kept lover). The company's life is further complicated by the unexpected imprisonment of the company's senior actor, Flavio (Ben Gazzara), not to mention the tangled aspirations, insecurities and assorted love affairs of the company's juvenile leads (Rufus Sewell and Georgina Cates), a veteran clown (Leo Bassi), and colorful supporting players (Aida Turturro, David Thornton).

Tuccio and Rachel are ultimately reconciled, but not before the ensemble cast plays out a bittersweet erotic farce exploring all the aspects of love and its imperfections: lust, loyalty, ambition, betrayal, rediscovery and the triumph of the imagination.

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