Strictly Sinatra Review
Toni Cocozza (Ian Hart) is a Glaswegian lounge singer whose repertoire is, as the title says, Strictly Sinatra. One night, a prominent local gangster visits the nightclub where he is performing. He sings their request and is introduced to them, in particular the gangster's right hand man Chisholm (Brian Cox). Fascinated by Chisholm's tales of Las Vegas and of meeting Frank, Dean, Sammy, Kim Novak and the rest, Toni falls in with the gangsters in the hope that they can make him a star. But there is a price to pay, as Toni begins to betray Bill (Alun Armstrong), his best friend and accompanist, and Irene (Kelly Macdonald), his girlfriend.
Written and directed by Peter Capaldi, Strictly Sinatra has its moments but is unfortunately a mild, rudderless slice of whimsy. It needed perhaps a Bill Forsyth to do it justice, but it would still require a more firmly-structured script. Writer/director Capaldi (who wrote the similarly low-wattage road move Soft Top Hard Shoulder several years back) is also an actor, and the best moments of Strictly Sinatra are acting moments. Many of these are given to Brian Cox, who doesn't go wrong with Chisholm's reminiscences of Vegas and the Rat Pack. You don't have to be a fan to appreciate the star worship contained inside the hard-man shell. Apart from that, there's little sense of any danger for Toni: these gangsters seem derived from movies rather than life. That wouldn't be so bad a thing, but the film would have had to be much more stylish to bring it off. That's beyond Capaldi's capabilities, in this his debut feature as director, though his direction is certainly competent enough. The same goes for Hart and Macdonald – their work is very able but nothing extraordinary, though give Hart credit for doing his own singing.