The Impostors (1998)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

USA, 1998.  First Cold Piece, .  Screenplay by Stanley Tucci.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Stanley Tucci’s tribute to silent-era filmmaking is an art-deco delight, one that is short on substance but long on rollicking humour. Tucci and  play two down-and-out unemployed actors who find themselves stowing away on an ocean liner when they have to hide out from an esteemed actor () they have badly insulted. Unfortunately for them, the actor is on board the ship too, but so are two con artists (Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney), an angry communist ready to blow up the ship (), an obsessed German steward () with a kick for the lovely Lily (), an abandoned singer who just can’t commit suicide no matter how hard he tries (), an old-money widow with a manic depressive daughter (, Hope Davis, respectively, they played mother and daughter again in Lawrence Kasdan’s Mumford), a sexually repressed wrestler with an obsessive need to get men in their shorts and down on the floor (), and a beautiful deposed Russian queen who can’t stop crying (Isabella Rossellini). There’s no performance to point out in particular here:  they’re all fantastic and each one ices the cake even better than the one before it, and while it is not as brilliant as Tucci and Scott’s previous effort Big Night, I’ll be damned if I didn’t laugh my head off. Tucci’s emphasis on recreating “modern” art of the twenties right down to the last glint off the porthole windows is marvelous, reminiscent of Fellini’s And The Ship Sails On (even the “it’s only a movie” ending). Look for a wondeful cameo by Woody Allen.

Toronto International Film Festival:  1998

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