Dominick and Eugene
|Dominick and Eugene|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert M. Young|
|Produced by||Mike Farrell
Jamie Lee Curtis
|Distributed by||Orion Pictures|
|December 23, 1988|
Dominick and Eugene is a 1988 American drama film directed by Robert M. Young about twin brothers, Dominick and Eugene. Dominick has an intellectual disability due to an accident in his youth. The film was directed by Robert M. Young, and stars Ray Liotta, Tom Hulce, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Dominick "Nicky" (Hulce) and Eugene "Gino" (Liotta) Luciano are twin brothers living together in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nicky has a learning disability from his youth and Gino takes care of him and helps him get through life. Gino is studying to become a doctor at a local hospital, and has an offer to finish his education at far-off Stanford University; but he is afraid that Nicky will not be able to take care of himself, without Eugene there to look after him. Nicky has a job working for a garbage collection company, a job that supports his brother's education. He and a man named Larry (Todd Graff) work a city garbage route for Mr. Johnson (Bill Cobbs). Larry is Nicky's best friend, albeit a bit of a wiseacre who constantly puts wild ideas into Nicky's mind.
Eugene begins helping a nurse named Jennifer (Curtis), who is working at the same hospital where he is, to study for her exams. He begins to develop feelings for her as the movie progresses. Nicky mentions this to Larry while they are working and Larry does not miss the opportunity to plant the idea in Nicky's head that Jennifer and Eugene are sleeping together and may marry and abandon Nicky. Although Jennifer came from a more affluent family and neighborhood, she is charmed at the brothers' relationship and humble surroundings. Nicky is briefly shown praying in a church and speaking to the priest. One day Larry pays an innocent Nicky to deliver a dose of an illegal drug, wrapped in a newspaper, to a drug user in a rough neighborhood. Nicky innocently forgets the delivery, and later tells his brother, who worries that Nicky can be so naive and gullible.
On the night of his and Nicky's birthday, Eugene must work late at the hospital and calls a very disappointed Nicky to tell him. Nicky starts to take Larry to a Wrestlemania event he and Eugene were going to see, but Larry instead takes Nicky with him to visit a woman called Mrs. Vincent, whom Larry is occasionally intimate with. Nicky does not engage in sexual intercourse with the friendly Mrs. Vincent and instead goes outside as Larry has fun with her inside. Nicky is surprised to find a young boy named Mikey Chernak, who is Mrs. Vincent's next door neighbour and someone Nicky knows from his garbage route, outside with bruises on his face. When Nicky asks where the bruises are from, Mikey replies he fell. Nicky does not understand that Mikey's father Martin (David Strathairn) abuses him and assumes Mikey is telling the truth.
Larry and Nicky go bar-hopping and both get very drunk. All the while Larry constantly and drunkenly taunts Nicky about Eugene's relationship with Jennifer. Nicky stumbles home and finds Jennifer and Eugene sitting and talking. Nicky believes they are sleeping together and tells Eugene that he knows he is "screwing" Jennifer. Eugene gets very angry and roughly shoves Nicky before sending him to bed. A slightly embarrassed Jennifer leaves.
Later, Nicky, Eugene, Jennifer and Mrs. Gianelli, who lives next door, go on a picnic and bring Nicky's dog Fred. At the picnic, Fred is hit by a passing car, greatly disturbing Nicky. Several days later, Nicky is collecting garbage at Mikey's house and through the window views Martin hitting Mikey and forcing him down the stairs. The father shoves him too hard and sends the boy to the bottom of the stairs. The father races to the phone and calls 911, telling them the boy fell. The father sees a shocked Nicky through the window as Larry and Mr. Johnson find Nicky by the window. Nicky is horrified, speechless, and unable to act, to move, or to tell Larry what is wrong, what he's witnessed. The father lies and says Mikey fell. Nicky and Larry are concerned and soon neighbors, including Mrs. Vincent and Mikey's mother Theresa, arrive at the scene. An ambulance appears and takes Mikey to the hospital. An inconsolable Nicky runs after the ambulance, leaving his co-workers at the garbage truck shouting after him asking what's wrong.
Nicky runs to the hospital, where Martin drags him into a closet and tells him that Mikey is dead, warning Nicky that if he tells anybody that he had pushed the boy, he will kill Nicky also. A horrified Nicky flees. Later on, Nicky takes a gun from Mr. Johnson's truck (which Larry was seen with earlier in the film to kill rats at the junkyard) and goes back to the home of Martin and his wife Theresa, where they and a gathering of neighbors and friends grieve. Nicky steals Mikey's baby brother, Joey, from his parents at gunpoint and runs away believing he is protecting the baby from the father. He is eventually cornered in a lonely building, when a SWAT Team surrounds the place.
Eugene and Jennifer, as well as Martin and Theresa, race to the building. Eugene is sent in to get Nicky and the baby out. He goes in and is confronted by Nicky, who now believes after seeing the domestic abuse of Mikey that their father, long ago, had done the same to him and that is why he is mentally challenged. Eugene breaks down and admits that it is true. Yet, he also reveals that despite this, Nicky always stood up to their father and protected Eugene. Eugene relates how one night their father got really angry at Eugene and Nicky took the beating instead, leaving Nicky mentally challenged. A sobbing Eugene tells Nicky he does not want to become violent like their father, and he is at times afraid of himself and how he gets mad at Nicky. Nicky comforts him and tells him that he is not like their father and that he loves him.
They exit the building and hand the baby, Joey, over to Theresa. Eugene protests as the Pittsburgh Police handcuff Nicky. Martin races forward with a gun and aims for Nicky. Eugene and two police officers manage to subdue him. Nicky tells everyone how Martin abused Mikey and how he killed him. A horrified Theresa realizes that that is true. Nicky is released and the father is hauled away in handcuffs.
At the end, Eugene kisses Jennifer as he leaves for Stanford University medical school, and she says she will leave her phone number with Nicky. The twins embrace one last time, and then Eugene also leaves. The credits roll as Nicky goes on his daily garbage route, happily embracing the future with content and a new understanding of himself.
- Dominick Luciano, Tom Hulce
- Eugene Luciano, Ray Liotta
- Jennifer Reston, Jamie Lee Curtis
- Larry Higgins, Todd Graff
- Jesse Johnson, Bill Cobbs
- Martin, David Strathairn
The film received positive reviews, holding a 100% rating on the film-review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on nine reviews. Hulce received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance (Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama).