John Turturro stars as a turn-of-the-century playwright forced to pen a masterpiece for the local theater, with his love interest in the lead role (real-life wife Katherine Borowitz). Sound familiar? Illuminata is more pensive and self-important than Shakespeare in Love, but less fun to watch. Both blur the line between theater and reality as the participants' desires strain against the confines of each realm.
Christopher Walken vamps it up as a gay critic who trashes the play, only to develop a crush on one of the minor characters, thereby giving the players another shot at a positive review. Susan Sarandon, cast as an aging star, is particularly enjoyable. Illuminata's light shines on occasion, but sheds no lasting warmth.