Willem Dafoe gives one of his best performances as a film director struggling to come to terms with life.
Dafoe is the title character – ‘Tommaso’ – an older American ex-pat living in Rome. He is putting together a new film from his roomy apartment he shares with his young (29) Moldovan girlfriend Nikki (a stunning and very good Cristina Chiriac, and Director Abel Ferrara’s real-life wife) and their three-year-old daughter Deedee (Anna Ferrara – Chiriac and Ferrara’s actual daughter). Tommaso also teaches an acting class and is surrounded by young attractive wannabe actresses who literally throw themselves at him – He is definitely not short of female attention. He is also taking Italian lessons to learn the language better – though he speaks it pretty well, and attends alcoholics anonymous meetings – he used to be a drunk – and recounts stories to his fellow members about this wild and crazy days.
He seems to be settling down and is happy in his mid-life, but something just doesn’t seem right. Is it him? Is it his relationship with Nikki? Could it be the pressure of the new movie that he is putting together (which is very dark, and deals with death)? Why does he feel himself ready to unravel at any moment. And if he does, what’s going to happen?
This is Ferrara’s first dramatic feature since 2014’s ‘Pasolini‘ – which also starred Dafoe – and is easily his and Dafoe’s best collaboration to date because the subject matter works well for both of them. ‘Tommaso mirrors events in Ferrara’s life 16 years ago when he moved out of post-9/11 New York City to Italy where he, in his words, ‘got a girl knocked up.’
Dafoe, who has yet to win an Oscar (he’s been nominated four times) is superb. Dafoe will be honoured with a golden statuette one day – perhaps not for this film. But in ‘Tommaso,’ it shows that Dafoe is one of the best actors of our generation, and he’s getting better with age.
‘Tommaso’ is now available through virtual cinemas at Kino Marquee.
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.