Dirs: The Manetti Bros | Cast: Claudia Gerini, Carlo Buccirosso, Serena Rossi, Giampaolo Morelli, Luciana De Falco, Mario Rivelli | Musical Romance | 133′ | Italy
Naples meets Brooklyn in the Manetti’s Versace-themed Mafia-musical melodrama. LOVE AND BULLETS is not subtle by any means. What you get here is high octane entertainment that never takes itself too seriously in delivering a raucous laugh out loud tale of deception that frequently breaks into warbling vibrato including a few bum notes, not just on the music front. The jamboree is overlong but ultimately enjoyable — despite its detours, and its dialectical complexities – and not always easy to follow. Suffice to say, this is one exception where you can munch popcorn to your heart’s content and not disturb a fly.
The film opens in a Baroque cathedral where Donna Maria (Claudia Gerini) is mourning the death of her fish-farm magnate husband and crime boss, Don Vincenzo (Carlo Buccirosso), who suddenly comes alive in the privacy of his ornate coffin, giving forth in fruity bass tones and casting doubt over his identity to one and all.
Flipping back a few days it emerges that Maria and Vincenzo have faked his death. His two sidekicks, Rosario (actor-singer Raiz) and the more charismatic Ciro (Giampaolo Morelli), are advised to take over the reins by Donna Maria and ensure that no one finds out that Vincenzo didn’t die in a mussel tank shot by his rivals – cue the first joke: “Americans don’t know mussels from missiles”. This the tenor of the comedy.
But hospital nurse Fatima (Ciro’s first love) sees Vincenzo in hospital on the operating table, and matters are complicated when Ciro’s finds he still holds a candle for her – and she for him – making bumping her off a big problem, especially when they smooch to ‘their song’ Flashdance – (remastered by Giorgio Moroder who contributed to the foot-stamping score along with Pivio and De Scalzi); so feelings flood back but give Ciro a difficult choice: should he go for money or love?
Some of the jokes have a distinctly racist undertone, and swearing is the order of the day in the less light-hearted second half making us less forgiving of the bouts of narrative torpor. That said, this is a gutsy and well-performed musical with Gerini pulling all the stops out in a terrific turn. Morelli is the star turn on the male front and let’s hope we get to see more of his stylish chops in future. Buccirosso makes a good job of the difficult role of Vincenzo who has to be vulnerable and macho at the same time, and the film looks gorgeously lurid in its retro aesthetic thanks to DoP Francesca Amitrano, production designer Noemi Marchica and costume designer Daniela Salernitano.MT
VENICE FIOM FESTIVAL UNTIL 9 SEPTEMBER 2017