LOVE RANCH (Taylor Hackford). 118 minutes. Opens Wednesday (June 30). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: N
Love Ranch is the first film Taylor Hackford and Helen Mirren have made together since they wed in 1997. With any luck, it'll also be their last. It belongs at the very bottom of both of their filmographies, and I say that as someone who sat through Shadowboxer.[rssbreak]
Set in the late 1970s, the true-ish story stars Mirren as Grace Botempo, who runs a legal brothel just outside Reno with her husband, Charlie (Joe Pesci, dusting off his glad-handing, hotheaded GoodFellas persona). Newly diagnosed with cancer, but keeping it a secret, Grace is reawakened to life when Charlie charges her with managing a hunky Spanish boxer (Sergio Peris-Mencheta). Guilt-ridden sexy time ensues, which turns out to be really bad for business.
Hackford thinks he's making a light-comic version of Boogie Nights, but all he's really done is pile on the period decor. (It turns out that late-70s hooker wear is virtually indistinguishable from American Apparel's current line.) Otherwise, Love Ranch is a plodding, indifferently made dud whose scenes play out in static long shots while the actors shout or sulk as the moment requires.
Mark Jacobson's screenplay makes sure every major character gets a terrible monologue about how much suffering he or she has experienced in the pursuit of a dream. Which would be fine if I believed they suffered as much as I did watching their movie.