Directed by John Turturro, this movie is released in the US on Friday 20th August 1999

From Ginny in Florida/Kentucky USA

I’ve been anxiously awaiting this film since it was presented at Cannes in 1998 - and it was more than worth the wait.
It can best be described as Turturro’s love song to the theatre, and a delight at every turn. The care taken with all aspects of this film - the story, the sets, the top-rate cast - is truly inspiring.

The setting is New York at the turn of the century - when theatre was much more a part of everyday life and not just for the “converted”. We get to explore the lives of the actors as they struggle with their craft and each other in all sorts of delightful, very funny, touching ways.
The use of color and light make the scenes glow with almost other-worldly beauty. It’s difficult to say what I Iiked best about this extraordinarily beautiful film - it is a feast for all the senses.

The ensemble cast is first rate, with Rufus getting the chance to demonstrate his wonderful comedic skills again. They all obviously had a great time making this lovely, funny, poignant film together.
Christopher Walken is hilarious as the critic smitten by one of the male actors - Susan Sarandon is delightful as the aging diva, Katherine Borowitz (Turturro’s wife) is mesmerizing in her role as the female star of the ensemble and wife of Tuccio, Turturro’s character and director of the troupe.

Rufus - at one moment the petulant self-centered leading man and the next a friend and confidant - is at his peak! He takes the handsome leading-man role to another dimension - showing us again his ablilty to give his characters many-faceted personalities.

Run, don’t walk to see this wonderful film - or call your local Theatre and request it!!

This is absolutely my favorite Rufus Sewell film!!

From Rai M. US

Illuminata is one of those movies that stays with you days after you've seen it. How often do you leave the theatre and realize several hours later that they didn't even show any exterior "panoramic" shots of the surroundings? And it didn't matter? The world of the theatre and this repertory company was all you needed.

The music was lovely - I'm going to order the CD right after I finish writing this. The musicians play "live" in one of my favoritescenes - Tuccio (John Turturro) has finally had the play he's writing for his wife/lover Rachel (Katherine Borowitz) performed. Granted, it's still a work in progress and he's a bit paranoid about its acceptance. He imagines (and we see through his eyes) Rachel flirting with strange men - and then the entire group turns to him and breaks into song ("TUUUCCIO!!")- brilliant fun.

The supporting players all have relationship issues with each other - Rufus' character, Dominique, is actually the only character *not* having a relationship (other than a brief scene in the beginning). Well, Dominique *is* having a love affair - with himself. It's fascinating to see how Tuccio's play (which is basically Tuccio & Rachel's life) affects everyone in the acting company. A series of encounters happening on one evening is cleverly bounced about, intertwining all the characters.
The use of these magnificent puppets between scenes is mesmerizing. You just have to see them to know what I mean.

The final scene with Dominique on stage is one of the most beautiful moments I've ever experienced in a movie. The lighting, the colors, the acting, the music, the words spoken - I don't think anyone was breathing in the movie theatre!

As for Rufus, who has some choice one-liners - he looks adorable in the costumes & hats he wears - he's funny, pompous, self-serving, but at the same time you know he's a good friend to Tuccio, even if the lines of sentiment they recite to each other come straight from a theatre script.

I was a big fan of John Turturro, especially "Mac" and "Boxof Moonlight", long before his association with Rufus. I'm an even biggerfan now.

From Jenny T US

Like everyone else, it seems like I've been waiting FOREVER to see this film. I had a chance to see it back in December with a movie preview program that I belong to, but as always seems to happen, the one day I miss is the one day they show a film I've been dying to see. To make matters worse, the following week when they reviewed reactions to the film, everyone had voted it the best of the series! Talk about adding salt to the wounds! Anyway, now I've FINALLY seen it.

Illuminata is a wildly uneven, but highly entertaining film. The ensemble cast is great -- particularly Donal McCann and the always eccentric Christopher Walken, who looks surprisingly like Gary Oldman in Dracula. He turns in another of his fabulously freaky performances. The characters are very well developed, which is unusual for a film with a cast this large. John Turturro's real-life wife, Katherine Borowitz gives a solid performance as the star of both this film and the play within the film.

Illuminata works best when it focuses on the stage -- the rehearsals, the back-stage bickering, and the play itself -- the film loses something when it moves away from the theatre and into the private lives of the characters.

Rufus gives one of his finest performances. His character, Dominique, is vaguely similar to Frank in MMFDL, but much more vain and egocentric. He is absolutely mesmorizing in scenes close to the end of the film, when the play is actually being performed. He also has some of the best and funniest one-liners in the film. I was glad to see that his role was larger than I originally thought, having read some reviews where he is barely, if at all, mentioned. It is a shame that the reviewers tend to focus on Susan Sarandon, who has a very minor part, and ignore the better supporting performances.

I enjoyed this film. It is very funny, but slow in parts. There are also a lot of subplots going on, which sometimes makes it hard to follow, but all in all it was an entertaining film. And the puppets were great!

From Rufus S. UK

Illuminata was FABULOUS, TERRIFIC and DRAINPIPE-TROUSER-TASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Well, I would say that!)
(Entertainment Weekly)

From Lisa A. US

The movie, IMO, is beatifully done, but sometimes does get lost in all the confusion of all the action going on, and in the fact that it does seem to try to handle dual themes - life on stage reflecting life offstage (and vice versa) and the acceptance of imperfect love. Some of the clutter comes from the difficulty in seeing what the motivations of some of the character's actions are, until after the character is done, then the motivation became sort of a moot point (if that makes any sense).

The overall feel of the movie, the sets and the costumes are all wonderful, and the puppeteering is absolutely magical - really, really beautifully done! And the whole cast as an ensemble is *very* strong and work *very* well together. The standout does have to be Walken's Bevelaqua - absolutely hilarious, and the "seduction" scene with Bill Irwin among the best in the film.

Rufus' portrayal of Dominique, the self-involved lead actor, was terrific! Dominique was one of those characters who, for the most part, viewed everything that went on around him from the standpoint of how was it going to affect him and his career. He did have the redeeming quality of caring for those around him when he wasn't thinking of himself, but there were points where I began to loathe the character. When Dominique was on stage, though, portraying the "Illuminata" embodyment of Tuccio, it became magic. Rufus delivered each layer and each level with his usual strong performance.
Our introduction to Dominique in this movie - *very* reminiscent of the introduction of Seth Starkadder in CCF!
I think a second viewing is in order.