Actor John Turturro, who made his directorial debut with the Cannes Camera d'Or winner Mac (1992), returned to directing with this period farce about a struggling, turn-of-the-century New York repertory company owned by Astergourd (Beverly D'Angelo) and Pallenchio (Donal McCann). Egotistical playwright Tuccio (Turturro) has written a new play, Illuminata, for the troupe's actress-manager Rachel (Katherine Borowitz), daughter of aging actor Flavio (Ben Gazzara), who's lost his memory. Tuccio would like to see Illuminata staged, but the owners feel the play is unfinished. Young Piero (Matthew Sussman) collapses while performing in Cavalleria Rusticana, and this provides the ambitious Tuccio with an opportunity to introduce his new work to audiences. Unfortunately, foppish critic Bevalaqua (Christopher Walken) is unimpressed and issues a vicious attack on the production -- while also making unsubtle overtures to company clown Marco (Bill Irwin). Diva Celimene (Susan Sarandon) seduces Tuccio with her promises to bring him worldwide fame and fortune. Other liaisons are played out with the juvenile leads (Rufus Sewell, Georgina Cates), a veteran clown (Leo Bassi), and a supporting actress (Aida Turturro). Shown in competition at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.
by Bhob Stewart synopsis