Aldolpho Rollo wants to be a filmmaker, but he has no idea where to start with his 500 pages script. When he is in need of money he decides to put out an ad to sell the script, and a strange man, Joe, calls him. He goes there to sell him the script, and leaves with a partner - Joe wants him to make the film, and he knows how to help him get the money. Through crime.
Steve Buscemi has always been part of a very select group of actors for me. He's an actor I really like, but I don't always care for the films he's been in. Most of them I don't even bother to watch because it's simply not my taste. But Steve, yeah, I like him. He's just a good actor and he seems to be a very nice guy. Above all, I get the feeling that he has integrity and that he's doing this because he wants to - even now after all of these years the roles seem to be carefully picked (but I suppose someone like Edward Norton seems even more careful with what he picks). Even though there was a lot of crap in there as well. Naturally I was excited when I found out about "In the Soup" - an early 90's crime/comedy with Steve Buscemi as a want-to-be filmmaker (very different from a wannabe filmmaker!).
Steve Buscemi plays the role of Aldolpho Rollo, a lonely guy who does whatever he can for a living. His days consist of working on his epic screenplay and hoping to get it made into a film - with his object of desire/neighbor Angelica in the lead role. One month he can't pay the rent so his mafia-like landlords tell him he has till the end of the week or he's out. In desperation he decides that the only thing he owns that is of value is his script, so he puts out an ad for it. That's when he meets Joe (with an unknown surname - just Joe). Joe answers the ad, and when Aldolpho goes to give him the script he ends up in the apartment of a strange older man who has a topless girl walking around, and he offers to help get the film made. Aldolpho can't really believe what he's hearing but who is he to say no? Together they start a partnership, but Joe's means of getting the budget together consists of committing crimes - everything from stealing a police man's Porsche, to drug-dealing. Aldolpho questions his means, but he also wants to get his epic film made.
What caught my attention early on was that even though the film is a rather typical crime/comedy, it carries itself with artistic merit. It's all over the film - the stylistic black and white photography, the smooth cinematography, some set designs. It's also within the film itself, too. Aldolpho's script is a symbolic art film with angels and all that stuff, and his influences go from Godard to Tarkovsky (I got a boner upon seeing a poster of "Stalker" in his apartment through-out). What I'm trying to say is that the film is about a filmmaker wanting to make an art film, so it was really nice to see that the film itself ("In the Soup") focused on having characteristics of an art film as well. The film is rather a mix of 90's indie comedies, crime/Mafia flicks, and artful dramas.
I'm quite often against films about filmmakers where they don't focus enough on the filmmaking aspect, but I didn't think about that at all with this one. I suppose it might be because you think of Aldolpho as a writer more than anything, and the dream of producing/directing might just be that - a dream. Instead the film is about Aldolpho growing as a person because of Joe. He stops being an isolated, lonely man, and eventually also gets to know his neighbor, a woman he wants to play the lead in his film. It's not at all about filmmaking and that's fine with me. In this case.
I can't possibly review this film without saying what a great cast it has. Not only because of Steve Buscemi, who just has to be the best possible actor for this role, but Seymour Cassel is excellent as Joe. Jennifer Beals couldn't have pulled off the role as Angelica, the neighbor, any better - she's likable but hard to reach. Even smaller roles are wonderful, like Stanley Tucci as the weird French man who is married to Angelica (for a green card - yeah, she married a French man for a green card). It's impossible not to enjoy this film for this alone.
The comedy is here and there - I don't think I ever laughed out loud, but the oddball, quirky comedy does work. As I wasn't expecting a full-blown comedy, I didn't care if it was all that funny. It stays light-hearted, though. Even when there's crime involved, it's still just a fun movie. You're not going on a thrill-ride, you're not gonna cry, you won't even have the feeling in your gut of hoping that things won't go wrong. You're just having fun - when things go wrong they don't come off as challenges, but tiny obstacles. There are emotional scenes, sure, but in the end there's just one focus, and that is for Aldolpho to make his film (and get laid).
I really loved "In the Soup". I didn't know what to expect from it and it just caught me by surprise. I love the quirkiness of it, but it's far from just being a weird comedy. It's so well-crafted, from the casting to the cinemtography. It was a pleasure to see a film like this that was handled delicately and didn't mind being creative and stylistic. You'll barely notice when the film is being unoriginal, as you're busy having fun. A much recommended film that I imagine people have missed out on!