Sonny ★★ 2002 (R)
Cage's directorial debut is about one man's frustrated attempts at leaving a life of crime. In 1981 New Orleans, Sonny (Franco) is fresh out of the Army and hopeful about working in his buddy's Texas bookstore. His corrupt pimp mother Jewel (Blethyn) would rather him reenter the family business and attempts to fix him up with Carol (Suvari), one of her new “girls.” The two fall in love and, after a disastrous encounter with the “straight” world, Sonny descends back into the life he once dreamed of leaving for good. Stanton is in his element, underplaying the good-hearted, drunk boyfriend of Jewel while Cage makes an amusing appearance as Acid Yellow, a gay pimp. Heavy handed and overly emotional (the hysterical Blethyn is practically unwatchable), with an uneven rhythm and not a lot of explanation. Cage falls victim to first-time indulgence, but respectable narrative manages to make its point. 105m/C VHS, DVD . US James Franco, Mena Suvari, Brenda Blethyn, Harry Dean Stanton, Nicolas Cage, Seymour Cassel, Brenda Vaccaro, Scott Caan; D: Nicolas Cage; W: John Carlen; C: Barry Markowitz; M: Clint Mansell.