Under Review: ‘The Temptation of St. Tony’


Remember the old song “Sixteen Reasons,” sung by Connie Stevens? Let’s see if I can come up with a fittingly bizarre parallel universe of 16 reasons why someone might enjoy viewing “The Temptation of Tony.”

    1. Associated with film and wants investment back

    2. Sensualist who knows there is no meaning outside sex and gluttony

    3. Male suffering from midlife crisis

    4. Artist who pretends to understand inscrutable ambiguous minimalist dialogue

    5. Poet who is passionately and sentimentally affected by dark esoteric metaphors

    6. Estonian who proudly watches anything from the homeland

    7. Druggie who want to be really tripped out

    8. Manic depressive who identifies with a world limited to shades of gray

    9. Surrealist who thrills at the noire-bizarre

    10. Right-wing anti-animal rights redneck

    11. Misanthrope titillated by a severed hand fetish

    12. Cynic who knows the world is no good anyway

    13. No Exit Existentialist who thrives and revels in the black hole of human hopelessness

    14. Dissociative sociopath who feels empowered by the suffering of others

    15. English majors who want to be immersed in a contemporary re-make of The Divine Comedy

    16. Desperate hosts who need a party-starter to impress the guests: “Wait until you see this!”

Those who think the worse something is, the funnier it is, will become “St. Tony” cult followers. They will laugh sardonically at Tony’s futile attempts to gain a foothold on something stable and good. They already know that anything perceived as innocent, pure or of earthly value is only a façade, a chimera, a figment of wishful idealism.

Tony misinterprets good deeds. He inexplicably allows a bloody, dirty, mentally unstable man, who has just purposely driven his own car over an embankment, behind the wheel of his crisply clean, white leather-upholstered expensive vehicle.

After firing a long-time, hardworking employee not far from retirement benefits, homely, middle-aged Tony drives him home and expects to find love reciprocated from his captivatingly beautiful young daughter.

These examples of ridiculous attempts at being and finding “good” will all bring a knowingly curled smile from those who recognize the bizarre nature of the human psyche and the fruitlessness of pursuing any kind of salvation or fulfillment .

“The Temptation of St. Tony” is not for everyone.

    Midway upon the journey of our life
    I found myself within a forest dark,
    For the straightforward pathway and been lost.
    Dante Alighieri, “Divine Comedy.” Inferno, Song I

Director/Writer: Veiko Õunpuu
Cast: Taavi Eelmaa, Ravshana Kurkova, Tiina Tauraite and Sten Ljunggren

Producers: Kristina Aber, Jesse Fryckman, Tero Kaukomaa and Katrin Kissa
Soundtrack: Ulo Krigul
Official Site:

Country: an Estonian, Swedish, Finnihs co-producction

Language: Estonian | Russian | English | French [English subtitles]

Release Date: NYC — Sept. 17, 2010, and L.A. — Oct. 1, 2010
Also Known As: Kuszenie swietego Tõnu
Runtime: 110 minutes
Color: Black and White
Filming Location: Estonia
Estonia’s official submission to Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film

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