In Abel Ferrara‘s Tommaso (Kino Lorber), Willem Dafoe plays the titular character, an American indie director living in Rome — obviously based on Ferrara himself. The film was shot in Ferrara’s own apartment there, and it costars his wife, Cristina Chiriac, and the couple’s three-year-old daughter, Anna Ferrara.
From Owen Gleiberman’s 5.22.19 review: “Given the semi-scandalous details of life on the edge that have made Ferrara, over the years, into something of a self-dramatizing legend, I was primed to see a movie that looked like it might turn out to be a cross between Bad Lieutenant and 8 1/2. [Except] Tommaso is about an aging bad boy who has cleaned up his act. Dafoe’s Tommaso was an addict (booze, heroin, crack), and the more accurate thing to say, of course, is that he still is one. But it appears he has found a hard-won life of entitled serenity. Right to the end, he stays clean and sober.
“Early on we see Tommaso going through his rituals: a lesson in how to speak Italian, a stop at the local market to see which vegetables are in season, grabbing a coffee, coming home to stir the orecchiette, settling in for quality time with his family and for a late-night snuggle-turned-shag on the couch with Nikki. It all looks like homespun paradise. And, of course, Tommaso attends 12-step meetings, where he details the sordid but now painful adventures of his past.
“Scene for scene, though, Tommaso feels alive. A movie that’s a loosely structured ramble can work, and about half of Tommaso feels more vital than anything Ferrara has made in a while. But the film should have been shapelier and 20 minutes shorter, with a more focused dramatic psychology. [Ferrara] has talent and urgency, but at 67 he’s still a poster boy for the bohemian shaggy-dog school of filmmaking without discipline.”