Mike Figgis' visually striking first feature is a noir tale on the dangers of seduction. With his flair for imbuing his characters' every glance or gesture with electric portent, Figgis has created an enticingly elliptical cinematic universe powered by an undercurrent of sexual tension. Most of the action here centers on a jazz club owned by Finney (Sting) in the rundown British city of Newcastle, which is located in an area vital to the future plans of American gangster/developer Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones). These two engage in a fierce battle of wills while Cosmo's escort/arm candy (Melanie Griffith) becomes involved with the club's young factotum (Sean Bean), and the tension level quietly ratchets up. If nothing is finally resolved in the manner of more linear narratives, the final effect is that much more unsettling. Jones is perfectly cast as the swaggering businessman and Sting is impressive as the laconic, tough-minded Brit. Roger Deakins' camera transmutes the crumbling former coal-mining center into a landscape of dark, enigmatic beauty, as the film laments its loss in the inevitable onrush of the global economy.
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Stormy Monday is a four-person character study in which style is all that matters. This tautly constructed, deftly executed crime thriller is set in economically depressed Newcastle England. Sting plays Finney, a relatively honest Newcastle jazz-club owner who crosses the path of crass American gangster Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones). Flaunting his wealth at every opportunity, Cosmo wants to involve Finney in a land development deal -- if only he'll give up his club. Both men are enamored of Kate (Melanie Griffith), who becomes a pawn in their ongoing one-upsmanship. Kate and her lover (Sean Bean) try to prevent Finney from corrupting his own sense of values by wallowing in the gutter with Cosmo. Stormy Monday, the first feature-length directorial effort of former jazz musician Mike Figgis, who also wrote the script and composed the score, tells its story using subtle shadings of character and a vivid evocation of its Newcastle setting rather than through violent action. Figgis's moody direction of his excellent screenplay is quietly effective and brimming with visual nuance and irony -- particularly in its perceptive take on love, money, jazz, and economic necessity.
All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
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