I have to admit that if I went purely off the trailer alone, I don’t think I would have tried The Encore of Tony Duran. This isn’t to say the trailer is particularly bad. It’s the fact that indie films can be very hit and miss when it comes to heartfelt dramas, with many missing poignancy by a mile and a half. I do admit finding the movie’s premise a little gimmicky as it was obviously a play on America’s current economic drought. I’m not ashamed to admit that the primary reason I wanted to see this movie was to see Elliott Gould steal every scene he was going to be in.
Mr. Gould didn’t fail. Surprisingly, neither did the film. Clocking in at under two hours, The Encore of Tony Duran manages to feel like a much longer and way more powerful film. It is the story of Tony Duran, a washed up singer who’s chance at fame burned out long before he really got going. His life subsequently collapsed with his wife abandoning ship, his son distancing himself and Tony himself falling into a spiral of self-pity, self-loathing, and emotional eating. Played with self-mocking honesty by Gene Pietragallo, Tony has convinced himself that everything that has befallen him is more or less because of the economy. His money woes have systematically trapped him in a life that only seems to worsen as the sun treks across the sky. It drags him down to the very lowest point quickly.
If there’s a fault, it’s that the movie is somewhat clunky in transitioning from Tony’s woe-is-me perspective to his eventual growth into a worthwhile human being again. There’s a bit of a gap there as the film shifts emotional gears because Tony’s issues actually have nothing to do with money. His financial ruin is smoke and mirrors to hide his real problems. I think the shaky feeling may have more to do with the film’s short runtime than anything else. Tony’s backstory and subsequent redemption don’t suffer too badly but more time could have given the reveal a bit more punch. However, Elliot Gould’s charming lounge lizard Jerry plays an excellent straight man, proving to be the saving grace when Tony’s confession threatens to become overwrought.
As the truth comes out, you do end up feeling for Tony. You even feel for him before that, pitying this man who’s fallen so low and genuinely wishing he’d get it together. It’s odd to call Tony loveable because he’s such an utter disaster but you love him by the end of it. Maybe because seeing someone try and succeed in achieving his dream is still satisfying, even in this cynical day and age. Maybe we just want to think someone can win. After all, everyone wants a happy ending but not many people deserve it. But Tony definitely did.
The Encore of Tony Duran is now available on DVD/Blu-Ray, Amazon and iTunes. You can find out more find out more about the film here.
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