Mafioso

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CALL OF THE MILD Sordi, center, is moved to sing at his return home.
CALL OF THE MILD Sordi, center, is moved to sing at his return home.

Time Out says

Long before Don Corleone made offers folks couldn’t refuse and Hollywood’s Mafia fetish had reached critical mass, Alberto Lattuada sifted through the culture of La Cosa Nostra and came back with a satire on wise guys, blood ties and Southern Italian hospitality. Antonio (Sordi) left his village for the rewards of Northern assimilation: a management job at an auto factory, a house in Milan, a blond wife (Bengell). This Sicilian’s heart still bursts with hometown pride, however, and he hopes that a trip back will convince his skeptical spouse about setting up a summer home there. Except Antonio’s past also includes a stint working for capo Don Vincenzo (Attanasio). And just when this urban transplant thought he was out...

Notwithstanding the hyperventilating praise that Mafioso received after screening at last year’s New York Film Festival (must all semiunderrated movies over 40 be coronated as lost classics?), Lattuada’s take on the mob mentality remains a minor farce. The caricatures inhabiting its Hee-Haw version of Sicily—toothless yokels, clueless Casanovas, follicularly challenged females—make Fellini’s grotesques seem quaint, and the film can’t hold a candle to any of Pietro Germi’s devastating dissections of ’60s Italian society. But Sordi’s performance adds immeasurably to the comedy’s charms; his sudden burst into song during a “light” lunch nearly redeems the numerous broad swipes and cheap shots. And the actor’s every-paesan persona makes the film’s coda such an effectively bittersweet punch line: Behind every local-boy-made-good success story, there apparently lies a history of violence and tears. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — David Fear

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