What do Glasgow, Kiev and New Jersey have in common? Answer: fried potatoes and organised crime.

In the case of Glasgow, it's bully boy tactics and big men with brutish haircuts, although at the Cafe de Rio, where the Bazalgia family has been dispensing fish suppers and ice cream sundaes for three generations, the biggest pressure from a certain quarter is to sell up - or else.

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The story begins in Kiev, where Settimo (Dan Hedaya) and Gino (Danny Nucci), two Mafiosi from New Jersey, are concluding a deal with the local villains when the whole thing goes Tarantino. Settimo and Gino escape the blood bath with the goods - at this stage, you assume it's drugs - and fly to Scotland to lay low with their cousins, the Bazalgias, until the heat is off.

The scene at the cafe is blissfully innocent. Roberto (Gerald Lepkowski), known as Bobby to the home crew, fancies Alice (Shirley Henderson) who works there, but would never dare mention it or push himself forward, being slow and gangly and far too nice. Grandad (Russell Hunter) remembers Italy, the old days and the early struggles. He's made of tougher stuff.

None of them have a clue what their American cousins do for a living - Settimo mumbles something about real estate, or transport, and they half believe him - and are too polite to ask what is in that locked case they guard so assiduously. Gino is a well-oiled ladies man and it doesn't take long for him to cast his eye over Alice, who finds his confident chat-up lines a refreshing change from Bobby's hesitant waffle.

The film has oodles of charm and avoids the obvious pitfalls of comic Mafia spoofs. In fact, to even suggest that this is anything other than a rom-com with guns would undermind its true intention. Sergio Casci writes Irn one-liners, Bru-ed in Scotland, and director Don Coutts takes trouble not to feed cliches into the beast.

It is a pleasant surprise to find Hedaya playing anything other than a half-crazed fanatic. His smile, believe it or not, contains warmth. Lepkowski grows into his role and finally conquers all before him, as Henderson, in her usual way, dazzles in support.

There are moments when thoughts of Bill Forsyth and the great days of Bill Paterson come to mind. Comfort and joy? Certainly.

Reviewed on: 27 Nov 2003
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Mafiosi hide out with their Scottish cousins, who run an ice cream parlour with chips.
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Director: Don Coutts

Writer: Sergio Casci

Starring: Gerald Lepkowski, Shirley Henderson, Dan Hedaya, Danny Nucci, Russell Hunter, Stevan Rimkus

Year: 2003

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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