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‘R Xmas (2001) – Review

1/2 Star

It’s Christmas eve in the heart of Manhattan, and a young couple are caught up leading a dual life; loving parents by day, and heroin dealers by night. They have the seemingly idyllic life, until their financial empire begins to crumble. Double crossed by fellow dealers, who threaten to steal their profits and posts, the wife receives a message that her husband is being held , and she has 20 minutes to pay a hefty ransom or face his death.

‘R Xmas was directed by longtime film provocateur Abel Ferrara, the movie is a complete mess and yet it’s arguably Ferrara’s most cohesive and restrained work to date. Set in 1993 for no obvious reason and presenting us with characters that garner no sympathy or compassion, this offbeat crime tale set during Christmas is an utter failure. The heavy-handed line readings from Sopranos star Drea de Matteo are horrendous, but not nearly as awful as the borderline parody performance from Lillo Brancato Jr., He seems to be channeling everybody from De Niro to Pacino to Edward Robinson, and doing none well.

This is a remarkably meandering film, even at a brief 85 minutes the movie is so lethargic and un-involving the running time feels twice as long. I have no idea what message Ferrara and his collaborators were attempting to make, there is a sideline plot about the parents struggle to find a hot holiday gift that their child craves. This leads the couple on an-all night mission to retrieve the toy, but does nothing to further the plot. These dalliances into the obscure and off-beat are some of the hallmarks that punctuate Ferrara’s films, there is a reason he has a cult following and a massive amount of detractors. I think you can figure out where I stand.

Director: Abel Ferrara
Stars: Drea de Matteo, Lillo Brancato Jr., Ice-T

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