Apparently, every single man ever exposed to her has found helen Mirren to be the ultimate “silver fox.” so, boys, here’s a tip: Helen Mirren’s naked nipple makes its appearance 63 minutes into Love Ranch.
Somewhat by default, breasts play a prominent role in this film about the first legal brothel near Reno, Nev. It chronicles “he Love Ranch” and its owners: Charlie (Joe Pesci) and his wife Grace (Mirren).
The two are in a loveless marriage. Charlie plays that he loves and respects Grace, but he seems to enjoy cheating on her, manipulating politics and frivolously spending their money while she bitterly works to manage the “25 psychotic whores” whom they employ. His tantrums and irresponsibility outline their roles. He’s the child. She’s his mother.
One day, during a particularly extravagant spending spree, Charlie buys an Argentinean boxer named Armando Bruza (Sergio Peris-Mencheta). Bruza is revered as a god in his home country, but in Reno, he is scraping by. Charlie brings Bruza back to the ranch to train and names Grace as his manager. Eventually, the two go to bed together. (As will happen in a brothel. But this was love. Really.)
Bruza is handsome, her husband is a jerk and she’s dying of cancer, so Grace decides to leave the ranch with Bruza. Then disaster strikes.
Love Ranch isn’t terrible, but it isn’t good, either. It’s bogged down by attempts to capture the spirit of the era, but the endless montages of ‘70s Reno are merely annoying. Constant and overdone reminders that this is a whorehouse where whores have sex (gasp!) make the whole thing come off as tacky — and not in a hip, retro way.
What’s worse is the abrupt ending, which feels lazy, and makes everything interesting that leads up to it fall flat.
Worst of all, however, is having to watch Pesci receive, um, oral gratification. Remember Harvey Keitel’s full-frontal bravado in The Piano (1993)? ?This is worse. Keitel wasn’t making his o-face. (Rated R)