Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

It seems that we can't get enough of Mafia families in America, from The Godfather to Goodfellas and, more recently, The Sopranos. It is somewhat refreshing then to watch a film about the Mafia which is actually set in Palermo and definitely more concerned with grit than glitz.

Set in the Eighties, Angela (Donatella Finocchiaro) is married to the Mob - Saro (Mario Pupella), the kingpin of one particular "family". They run a shoe shop, which is a front for a drugs operation, with Angela delivering the "goods" inside pairs of stilettos and brogues, seemingly unnoticed by the local constabulary. She is little more than a drugs mule and finds herself trapped in a world of drudgery - crucial to the mechanism of the mob's distribution system, but forced to be eternally on the sidelines, having no input into the business of the men.

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So far so skivvying, until the young and handsome Masino (Andrea di Stefano) appears on the scene and quickly ingratiates himself both with Saro and, on a more personal level, with Angela, a liason which ultimately will put their livelihoods, not to mention their lives, in danger.

Roberta Torre's third feature is a neat take on the Mafia genre, viewing the machinations of the Mob almost exclusively from Angela's perspective. The men seem to skate around the fringes of her life, while she struggles to find meaning in her existence and to cope with needs and desires which have no ready outlet. This gritty realism is enhanced by the manner in which the film is shot, using not-so-steady camerawork and by the fact that the actors are remarkably ordinary looking, making a change from Hollywood's endless ranks of beautiful-yet-uninspiring faces.

Finocchiaro is utterly convincing as Angela, by turns frustrated and alluring as she tries to wrest back some control over her life, only to find the situation spiralling increasingly out of control. Stefano and Pupella, too, put in fine performances, as the old king and the young pretender.

If there is a criticism to be levelled at the film, it would be that it is a little slow-moving, certainly not one to watch if you are expecting lots of Mafiosi violence and turf wars. But these stiller waters run deep.

Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2002
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Tale of star-crossed lovers in Mafiosi world of Sicily.
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Director: Roberta Torre

Writer: Roberta Torre

Starring: Donatella Finocchiaro, Andrea Di Stefano, Mario Pupella, Erasmo Lobello, Tony Gambino, Matteo Gulino, Maria Mistretta, Giuseppe Pettinato

Year: 2002

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Italy


EIFF 2002

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