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Somewhere in Queens

June 12, 2023 | 399 words | Movies

Here are a few words of praise for the new feature film, Somewhere in Queens, directed and co-written by veteran stand-up comedian and TV sitcom star Ray Romano.

I found the movie to be a masterpiece of observation. Credit the script, of course, but also the direction, as the camera is allowed to linger on seemingly inconsequential reactions and snippets of dialogue that enrich the story.

What’s that, you say? You have had enough of the “overbearing, extended Italian-American family” thing, blue collar division? Sure, there are some familiar stereotypes in this movie, but they are lovingly presented. And, yes, there are one or two bits that feel like sitcom exchanges. But they are expertly staged and play out smoothly. Beyond these obvious touches – plot devices, if you will – each character in most every scene lands on a vein of truth that made this viewer want to know more about these people.

Mr. Romano’s sad-sack Leo Russo may not be your cup of tea as a leading man, but not all men lead, and Romano is very convincing in bringing this second-fiddle Everyman to life. As things unfold and the plot thickens, Leo has a few quiet speeches of self-realization that moved me to tears. This dialogue is sparse and on point, and Mr. Romano delivers his lines with a gentle persuasion I found irresistible.

The same can be said of Laurie Metcalf, who is cast as Leo’s long-suffering wife, Angela. She is a crusty cancer survivor who at first glance appears to be rather hard to live with. But under Ms. Metcalf’s tough-as-nails exterior I never doubted her vulnerability. Her Angela made me cry, repeatedly. The two bring a long-time, low-key marriage to life in vivid colors: the good, the bad, and the ugly. She holds him accountable. And he supports her when she is most in need of support. I would recommend this movie to anyone who has been married a long time, regardless of your ethnicity.

The portrait of a getting-older married couple may be at the heart of the story, but its sphere of influence expands much further. This movie is so good because it goes in different directions, and does justice to every single situation, and every single character it introduces. It is both a serious comedy and a serious drama. And that makes this little film positively Shakesperean in its scope.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.

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