The title "For the Love of Money" suggests a film about the nature of greed. Perhaps we will be subjected to a Randian conversation about the need for money versus the need for accomplishment.
"For the Love of Money" is not about this at all. In fact, after watching the film, I'm still not sure what it was supposed to be about. I don't even think the folks behind the camera could tell me.
The DVD cover art boasts the the likes of James Caan, Paul Sorvino and Edward Furlong. However, each actor is given under 10 minutes of screen time (Sorvino has a grand total of one scene) and their characters are useless to the overall story. What overall story, you ask? I'd read the synopsis on the back, but I fear it'll be just as unreliable as the cover art.
As far as this knucklehead could tell, the film is about two Israeli immigrants (Yehuda Levi, Oded Fehr) in search of the American dream. They just keep hitting forks in the road, and those forks happen to always be gangsters who get mad at them for reasons as banal as ruining a funny prank or messing up a car repair job. Ya, it gets pretty ridiculous, folks.
The film says it is based on a true story, but nothing seems remotely tied to reality. While watching the actors mumble and pretend to act, I could picture the producers sitting in a room with half-eaten pizza staring at white walls saying over and over to each other, "OK. What happens next?"
The film just chugs along without focus. The narration is almost inaudible and is written as if someone was just simplifying lines from better movies. Speaking of better movies, it's easy to tell that director Ellie Kanner has seen "Scarface" and "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas" and other great gangster films. However, that doesn't mean this film touches those in quality in any way, shape or form.
It just feels like the director is trying desperately to copy their looks with the limited resources and skill this film obviously had at its disposal.
There are a few silver linings in "For the Love of Money." The film is shot better than most lower budget films and this is most likely due to the cinematographer, Andrzej Sekula. He also shot "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs."
Caan's glorified cameo finds him playing a foul-mouthed old man, something he can do in his sleep (which is what he may or may not be doing here). While it's sad to see Caan reduced to dialogue like this, he makes the best of it. He's always a pleasure to watch and one can only hope his roles get better and more three dimensional from here.
There is probably a version of "For the Love of Money" worth telling. A better script and a director like Martin Scorsese could tell it with ease. The direction here isn't all bad, but the unoriginal aspects simply overshadow some of the more novel flourishes, like some pretty great transition shots.
Making a movie is a tough thing, and one should feel pride in doing it. However, one shouldn't feel any sense of accomplishment in wasting talent like Caan to make forgettable films like this one.
The DVD includes behind the scenes footage and trailers for films that look equally poor.