Is it possible that filmmakers may have finally tired of romanticizing the Mafia? Have the Godfathers become the Goldman Sachs of the underworld, no longer respected by their global audience and recognized simply as the gangsters that they really are?
Rita Atria is the daughter of a Mafia don. At the age of eleven she witnesses him being gunned down and throws herself across his blood-stained body in the village square, screaming for help, but no one comes. A heartbroken Rita begs her father’s best friend to avenge his death and Don Salvo promises he will, but then her brother tells her that the murderer is in fact Salvo, and their father was simply a victim of a Mafia play for power. Rita now trusts the villagers no more than she trusts Don Salvo, and from that day on begins to keep a diary. She writes down all she knows , all she sees, all she hears, planning for the day when she can be part of the revenge her and her brother plan.
The Sicilian Girl is based on the true story of Rita Atria and at first this film seems as if it’s going to be yet another tale of Dons meting out justice at their will, but the presence of the young Rita is a curious addition and we soon realize that The Sicilian Girl is going to tell us this story from her own point of view. It becomes intriguing and impossible to guess what is going to happen from moment to moment.
The first-rate writing remains subtle throughout and, as Rita grows older, she becomes more and more feisty and belligerent and fearless and is all the things you would prefer your enemy not to be. There is a particularly great moment when Rita is in an apartment with two police officers, having just had a brush with death, left behind her childhood sweetheart and her only living relative to become part of a witness protection program. One of the police officers hands Rita a sheet of paper with her new identification; she looks at her new name, looks up at the policeman and says “I don’t like the name Silvia”. This is dark humor at its best.
The Sicilian Girl is a compelling story and when Hollywood make The Sopranos into a film (which is as guaranteed as a remake of Jaws in 3D) perhaps they could give it an S.G. spin and let Tony Soprano’s daughter run the show, with maybe a cameo from the CEO of Goldman Sachs unless, of course, he’s been incarcerated by the time they roll. Fingers crossed, everyone.
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