Johnny Suede

1992, Movie, R, 95 mins

Review

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A case of attempted hip. This surrealistic fable from cinematographer turned writer-director Tom DiCillo occasionally succeeds, but more often it simply collapses under the weight of its own absurdity. Johnny Suede (Brad Pitt) is a young man who aspires to be a rock 'n' roll star in the mold of his 1960s idol, Ricky Nelson. Johnny has the right look, the right attitude and the largest pompadour in town, but a crucial element is still missing--he lacks a cool pair of shoes. Late one night, while he is leaving a downtown nightclub, a pair of black suede shoes literally drop from the heavens into his path. Newly confident, Johnny comes close to destroying both his career and his love life.

JOHNNY SUEDE's stylish, dreamlike mood and abstract dialogue cannot compensate for its unsatisfying storyline and characters. The main problem is that Johnny is almost entirely passive: he drifts lackadaisically through the story, very rarely fighting back or generating any real conflict. The film is occasionally intriguing on a visual level, thanks to the deliberately generic, anonymous urban setting, some Fellini-esque casting choices and, above all, Johnny's outrageous pompadour hairstyle. Ultimately, though, this is a derivative blend of surface elements from three far better films: Martin Scorsese's AFTER HOURS, Jonathan Demme's SOMETHING WILD and David Lynch's BLUE VELVET. leave a comment

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