Mixed or average reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 22
  2. Negative: 5 out of 22
  1. 100
    Romance & Cigarettes is the real thing, a film that breaks out of Hollywood jail with audacious originality, startling sexuality, heartfelt emotions, and an anarchic liberty. The actors toss their heads and run their mouths like prisoners let loose to race free.
  2. 90
    It's the most original picture by an American director I've seen this year, and also the most delightful.
  3. 83
    This is a movie that, off-putting as it can be at times, deserves to be seen and heard in a theater, if only to observe the reactions of others to the hilarious gutter talk coming out of Winslet's mouth.
  4. There is more raw vitality pumping through Romance & Cigarettes, John Turturro’s passionate ode to the sensual pulse of life in a working-class neighborhood of Queens, than in a dozen perky high school musicals. This is a movie in which a dirty mind is a good thing. Call it “The Singing Id.” Prudes, be forewarned.
  5. But by the end, when Gandolfini and Sarandon sing their sweet, hesitant little duet, it’s clear Turturro knew where he was going all along.
  6. Attempts something startlingly original by melding light opera with soap opera.
  7. Reviewed by: Louise Kennedy
    A hilarious, touching, and (except for a dip into melodrama near the end) skillful blend of subtle emotional depths and a dazzlingly playful surface.
  8. 75
    It's almost unfair to make the comparison because there are so many fundamental differences, but the closest recent movie to Romance and Cigarettes is "Moulin Rouge." The key likeness is easy to spot: the characters spontaneously break into familiar pop songs.
  9. Enthusiastically smutty and lyrical, the movie attempts to capture the way we unconsciously set the emotional moments of our lives to pop music, turning fits of passion, anger and righteous indignation into elaborate musical numbers in our heads.
  10. If you're game for something different, it's worth a few giggles.
  11. Romance and Cigarettes is lewd and it's lurid and looks to be a lost pop opera, but it has more vitality than anything else out there.
  12. 50
    It has cult item stamped all over it, and fans of (severely) experimental cinema might see it as a revelation. Most others will find that watching this movie is like having your senses beaten with a rake.
  13. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    The bleakly bizarre, uneven aesthetic and direction that is fluid but not quite limber succeed and fail from montage to montage, with the principals doing a sort of karaoke tribute to the likes of Joplin and Springsteen.
  14. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Chockfull of ideas and with an irreverence that irresistibly recalls late '60s American cinema, thesp John Turturro's third outing in the helmer's chair, Romance & Cigarettes, alternately shines and sputters.
  15. 50
    This singing-along-to-the-radio effect has a dingy charm that honors the blue-collar Italian setting, yet Turturro spoils it by turning the movie into a hip star party, with a cast of indie-acting royalty.
  16. Reviewed by: Gregory Kirschling
    With Walken around, hair up high, of course there are fleeting moments of fascinating weirdness, but even then, you're still moderately embarrassed for the cast.
  17. As the songs pile up and the plot putters along, Romance & Cigarettes wears thin, like a moral for the titular addiction: Sure, there’s the sweet dream of that first drag, but a whole pack’ll do a body bad.
  18. 38
    The trouble is that Turturro's reach considerably exceeds his grasp.
  19. The sad result is a karaoke nightmare. Loud and pointlessly crude, the film takes the disintegration of a dysfunctional working-class family and gives it the song-and-dance treatment.
  20. the movie comes on as a novelty item, meaning it's so full of disparate parts and so unable to approach coherence, it just sits there and burns out.
  21. Besides being inept, it's also pretentious and boring: an ambitious art film gone horribly wrong.
  22. 25
    Sometimes the actors lip-sync, but more often, they're singing along with the original vocal tracks, trying to out-belt Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen, like a cadre of enthusiastic shower singers joining in with the radio. The resulting cacophony is generally harsh and sloppy, and the film follows suit.

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