Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I can't believe I'm saying this, but ROMANZO CRIMINALE is in desperate need of a montage

The cold is God's way of telling us to burn more CatholicsROMANZO CRIMINALE (Crime Story) is an Italian mafia movie directed by a long-time actor and relatively new director called Michael Placido. It is based on the book written by Giancarlo de Cataldo. The movie is loosely based on the true story of a mafia gang that rose to prominence in the 1970s - using the proceeds of a kidnapping to sell heroin in Rome, before becoming an arm of the Italian government - planting bombs and carrying out assassinations to frame the Red Brigades and shore up the established powers. Naturally, it all ends in tears before bedtime.

Apparently, the book is rather good. By contrast, the movie lands on the screen like a big, dead fish. It goes through the motions of a classic crime movie. Indeed, all told it is little more than a loose collection of cheap references to better films - from THE GODFATHER to SCARFACE to ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. But thanks to pedestrian editing and writing - a style of storytelling that has no energy - the movie creakily unwinds over two long, long hours. The only life centres on the character of Patrizia - a prostitute purchased for one of the gang members, played by Anna Mouglalis - better known as the face of Chanel. Otherwise, the decent cast of actors are left floundering by weak, derivative material.

Part of the problem may be that the rise of the gang never seems credible. One minute we see them talking about taking on Rome - the next minute they're hoovering up cocaine, driving limited edition sports cars and buying hookers houses. I never thought I'd say this, but ROMANZO CRIMINALE is in *desperate* need of a montage showing the gang beating up some incumbent hoods or generally kicking ass Joe-Pesci style. Otherwise it all seems like Disney does mafia: "Make me a Don!" Admittedly, ROMANZO CRIMINALE does get a bit more violent later on but it follows a rather Michael Corleone avenging The Godfather sort of a pattern, except with less good actors, script etc. Very disappointing.

ROMANZO CRIMINALE is available on Region 2 DVD.

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