A dedicated daddy’s girl from day one, Rita (Faja) worships her doting pops as if the professorial patriarch were a minor deity. Which, in a regional way, he is: Her father, Don Michele (Mazzarella), is a Sicilian “man of honor”—translation: mafioso—who inspires fealty in his fellow townspeople and fear in those who cross his path. Like a lot of his cosa nostra screen ancestors, Michele is destined for a violent end; when another relative falls prey to the perils of “the life,” the now-grown Rita (D’Agostino) decides to reroute her long-standing vendetta into Palermo’s legal system. And once she throws omerta out the window, no amount of police protection or advice from a Borsellino-like prosecutor (Grard Jugnot) can keep her out of the crime syndicate’s crosshairs.
Marco Amenta’s slightly fictionalized account of anti-Mafia martyr Rita Atria’s crusade for justice dutifully delivers the docudramatics (early tragedies, courageous triumphs) and mob-movie expectations (car-bombings, shoot-outs, courtroom cacophony). And therein lies the problem: Having provided both a bare-bones re-creation of real-life bravery and the chance for Italian actors to engage in histrionics, the movie doesn’t bother to aim for anything approaching artistry, social commentary or even in-depth reportage. You get the “girl,” but little else; even as a tribute to one woman’s determination, this semibiopic screams botched opportunity.—David Fear
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