Film - Rob the Mob

Rob the Mob

A true story of a young couple that took on the New York Mafia, reviewed by our own Boss (giggles around the office), Steve Taylor-Bryant...

A Mafia film starring Andy Garcia? I'm sold! As Rob the Mob starts though, I begin to realise this is not your usual mob related film. Set in the early 1990's during the trial of John Gotti, probably the most famous mob kingpin due to his extravagant lifestyle, we meet two drug addled petty thieves, Tommy Uva and Rose Marie. After the robbery of a flower shop on Valentine’s Day goes wrong, Tommy and Rose are sentenced to jail, where their drug habit is cleaned up allowing them a fresh life after their release. Rose gets them a job in a call centre, under the stewardship of Dave Lovell, himself an ex-con. On a brief respite from his mundane new surroundings Tommy visits the courtroom during the Gotti trial. Upon hearing the testimony given that Mafia 'social clubs' don’t have guns, Tommy hatches a plan to rob from the mob.

The plan is simple. Go in with a machine gun, take the money, jewellery and whatever else, embarrass the 'Made Men' slightly then scarper with the loot. After the first robbery the embarrassment is too much and the story works its way up the chain of command to the very top, Big Al. He sets his second in command the task of scaring the duo, now dubbed Bonny and Clyde by reporter Jerry Cardozo, away. It doesn’t work and Tommy robs a second club, this time scoring more money. However, after the third robbery, they realise they have taken something huge, a list of everyone in the crime family, the proof the F.B.I needs that the families are actually organised.

Getting caught up in their own hype Tommy and Rose sit with Cardozo and do an interview. The details they give about themselves, their modus operandi, their getaway car and themselves gives everyone the information they need to bring the pair to justice with the feds wanting no part of a witness protection scheme. Tommy and Rose are murdered on Christmas Eve 1992.

Jonathan Fernandez script is powerful and filled with emotion. Whilst remaining dark in its tone, it is splattered with human moments and touches of humour that transcend the average Mafia film and take Rob the Mob to a level above. Raymond De Felitta's direction brings some stunning performances from a perfect assembled cast. Michael Pitt (Seven Pyschopaths) and Nina Arianda (Win Win) are both believable as human beings, non-professional criminals and a young couple in love. As Tommy, Pitt brings an intensity to his portrayal. Tommy is fuelled by the murder of his father by the mob and him being ostracised by his family due to the path he took with drugs. Rose is doting, hanging on Tommy's every word and would do anything for her man, leading to a convincing couple as the main stars. Frank Whalley as an F.B.I agent is always a joy to watch on screen, and at first I was worried about the casting of Ray Romano as Frank Cordozo. Ray has a distinctive voice and with Everybody Loves Raymond it appears that everybody knows Ray. However his performance is flawless and after the first scene he is in you quickly get captured by Frank and his characteristics. The mob themselves are littered with a 'who’s who' of mafia film actors with Michael Rispoli (The Sopranos) as Sal, the right hand man, and Burt Young (Rocky) as Joey D the stand out picks of very good cast.

Then we come to one of my favourite actors of all time, Andy Garcia. Andy himself is no stranger to a Mafia film with The Godfather Part III, The Untouchables, and Hoodlum amongst his repertoire, and he plays the main boss here Big Al. He is not violent in his portrayal, in fact every response seems measured and crafted. His mere presence onscreen demands respect and his wonderful greying beard makes his role as a grandfather all the more believable. When he tells his story to Sal of how he became who he is, you saw regret in eyes, not many actors can act with their eyes, and it’s these subtleties that shouldn’t be underestimated. One of his final scenes where he plays chess with his grandson and tries to explain the difference between right and wrong, and educate the child to know by like him but a better person, is one of the most moving scenes I have watched in cinema for a very long time. Whilst the story may be about Bonny and Clyde, it is Big Al that steals the screen.

The imagery and cinematography in the film make the rougher, more hideous locations in New York look glorious in their doom, and the carefully selected songs for the soundtrack make this a flawless film.

Image - LFF.
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