New Yorker Mercedes (Rosie Perez) arrives in Los Angeles thinking "Hollywood" but achieving "East L.A." In Somebody to Love (1994), she is a sleezy sort of gal trying to get work as an actress, but ends up in a pay-to-dance-with-the-girl club.
Harvey Keitel plays her mentally unstable boyfriend Harry, looking for his own chance in the theater. Stanley Tucci plays George, a crazed would-be talent agent who's as big a failure as his clients.
Steve Buscemi plays Mercedes good friend, a transvestite taxi-dancer. Anthony Quinn is is the geezer who seems to be in a permanent state of lamentation over the long-ago death of his saintly mother. And Quentin Tarrantino plays the seedy comic bartender.
With this rather amazing group of actors, it'd be next to impossible to make a bad movie. It helps additionally that the script is as witty as it is dark, giving the actors something real to work with.
Harry says hopefully, "I'm living proof that you can survive in this business if you suck a little dick." Mercedes in a private moment prays: "I just wanna be somebody really special. Don't give up on me, okay, please God?"
Ernesto Jesus Juarez (Michael DeLorenzo) is an attractive young laborer who meets Mercedes at the dance bar, gets a whopping crush, but sad for Mercedes' toes, he seriously cannot figure out how to dance.
Since her boyfriend Harry is a married scoundrel & dufus, she really should get over him, & accept the younger man's adoration.
On the other hand, the likeable Juaraz may be an even more problematical choice.
He is so madly enamored that he has Mercedes' name emblazoned across his chest at a tattoo parlor, & will literally kill for her, as his love-inspired reasoning becomes less & less rational.
Sam Fuller, a director of film noir cult favorites, gets an acting gig as the wealthy producer who flips his car while out on a bender. His is one of the greatest cameo performances of all time!
Mercedes is hobbling home through the night with only one good shoe. Her pathetic limping journey is about to take on aspects of mythic quest.
Finding the aged film director on the roadside, she throws herself into saving him. The bizarre chance meeting leads to his instant conviction of the greatness of her self-avowed talent.
He decides then & there he's going to make a movie called Taxi Dancer starring her. But in a comedy as gloomy as this one, can anyone really end up with success & happiness?
Films that reveal the futility of dreams are disturbing even when they're this funny. Pathos & humor blend into a beautiful downbeat world of poetic misery for losers who deserved so much better than they got.
Rosie Perez has been one of our great character actresses, but has rarely had opportunities such as Somebody to Love provides, to shine as a leading lady in an intelligent well-written film.
The film's ending is more tragic than the story required, detracting from the tale's small elements which are the important elements.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl