So far, Taylor Hackford’s Love Ranch, which the director rescued from David Bergstein limbo, is not faring too well with early reviewers. They tend to like Helen Mirren (who is married to Hackford) more than her co-stars or the film. The movie will need more ardent love before it opens June 30.
Variety calls Mirren the queen of a Lifetime film:
…a tawdry look at the early days of Nevada’s legalized brothel business that plays more like Lifetime fodder than the Martin Scorsese pics that serve as its model. Collaborating with his wife for the first time since 1985’s “White Nights,” “Ray” director Taylor Hackford gives Mirren the only real character in an ensemble filled with types (Joe Pesci as her hot-headed husband, Gina Gershon in a role that makes her “Showgirls” perf feel well-rounded). Though younger auds can find livelier competish on cable, sexy subject should serve “Ranch” well in ancillary.
The Hollywood Reporter says the “tacky whoremasters” makes the business look “anything but glamourous or sexy“:
“Love Ranch” struggles to make a meaningful drama about these tacky whoremasters, ex-cons, tax cheats and one washed-up fighter. Thanks to the great Helen Mirren as the wife and Spanish actor Sergio Peris-Mencheta as the boxer, the film does create a convincing portrait of a late-flourishing love that takes everyone by surprise. Most of all, Mirren suggests how running such a sleazy business can grind down anyone’s humanity and happiness. Then her exposure to another damaged soul changes everything…The film seems like one of those cable television films that looks at bizarre-but-true news stories in greater and often fictional detail. So perhaps the film will play better in the living room.
Slant Magazine believes the film is a result of the “worst tendencies” of a bad screenplay being exaggerated by an unimaginative director:
What happens when the worst tendencies of a poor screenplay are exaggerated by labored and unimaginative direction? If you’re not careful, you might just end up with Love Ranch, a romantic melodrama that manages to evoke the weakest aspects of a potentially fruitful genre. Rather than try to downplay the laughable dialogue, overwrought events and twice-underlined symbolism of Mark Jacobson’s hackneyed script, director Taylor Hackford embraces them, bringing a portentous reverence to the characters’ clichéd declarations, calling on a catalogue of dull-minded aesthetic touches to augment the drama of the film’s key sequences and milking the screenplay’s latent sentimentality for all it’s worth.