Weighed down by soapy drama

The Sicilian Girl (La Siciliana Ribelle)

on August 12, 2010 by Matthew Nestel
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Based on true events, Sicilian Girl reprises the diary entries of a scorned daughter after the murders of her Mafioso father and brother. Approaching womanhood, Rita (Veronica D'Agostino) knows who ordered her family clipped and she does the unthinkable. She turns against La Cosa Nostra as an informant to testify and legally bury the drug-pushing syndicate all the way up to the rival don himself. In steadier hands this could have been a toothsome yarn, but rank acting dampens its punch. The spoils are too mighty to warrant a long run in theaters and auds will quickly chalk this one up as daytime television fare to watch while folding clothes.

Rita (D'Agostino) swears retribution on those that assassinated her father. So intent on getting an eye-for-an-eye, the girl has convulsions while just standing still. Excessive heavy breathing and overdramatic antics play out through all 110 minutes; it's as if she's carrying twins and running a marathon.

It's the mid-80s and Don Michele Mancusu (Marcelo Mazzarella) refuses to partner in the narcotics enterprise in Balata, Sicily and is taken out. A young girl at the time, Rita wants Don Salvo Rimi dead, he's the man that pushed her dad and brother out of the way to claim total power. Too impatient to wait for the right time to strike back, she tattles to the authorities. Word leaks of her ratting and a hit is ordered to be carried out by her beau, Vito (Francesco Casisa).

Doomed, Rita escapes the village, her detesting mother and death. In protective custody she assumes many names and moves frequently from safe house to safe house. Her diary is the central piece of the puzzle for the Prosecutor (Gérard Jugnot) to pin Don Salvo Rimi (Mario Pupella) and his gang with a truckload of charges. Everybody is threatened with death, even the prosecutor arguing the case.

Passages from the diary describe fleeting youth; Rita holding onto her dad riding a motorcycle or taking long walks through Rome while in hiding. Her words are a poetic scramble of kid bliss and affect. This would work if the actress didn't lack the confidence to be weak or the timing to be strong. Director Marco Amenta is too eager to squeeze drama out of frozen grapes. You quickly appreciate the slow cooking style by previous mafia moviemakers where the care and handling of the characters and their set-up was executed to the nth degree. You can practically taste the marinara or smell the corsage on the lapel of a tux in those films...not so here.

Indeed the story is compelling: mobster heir turns back on her mafia family roots and brazenly takes down a powerful enterprise. Handled the right way with a bolder vision and better cast might have launched the film entry into glory. Instead it will simply sleep with the fishes.

Distributor: Music Box Films
Cast: Veronica D'Agostino, Gérard Jugnot, Marcello Mazzarella, Mario Puella and Fracesco Casisa
Director: Marco Amenta
Screenwriters: Marco Amenta, Sergio Donati and Gianni Romoli
Producers: Simonetta Amenta, Tilde Corsi and Gianni Romoli
Genre: Drama; Italian-language, subtitled
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 110 min.
Release date: August 4 NY

Tags: Veronica D'Agostino, GĂ©rard Jugnot, Marcello Mazzarella, Mario Puella, Fracesco Casisa, Marco Amenta, Sergio Donati, Gianni Romoli, Tilde Corsi
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