Saturday, March 6, 2021

One of the best of the modern Mafia movies: Daniel Grou and Sylvain Guy's MAFIA INC

I am surprised to find myself so taken with a movie about the Mafia. Usually I find these singularly unappetizing -- in particular those made by American moviemakers who are far too happy to glamorize the Mafia; Italian filmmakers much better understand the sleaze and filth of this organization. Glamorization is something that MAFIA INC, the 2019 Canadian film just now getting a limited theatrical and DVD/digital release, has absolutely no interest in nor time for.

Oh, sure -- some of the settings are "posh," all right, but in a cold, dehumanized, who-gives-a-shit manner. And there's plenty of violence (some audiences still find this "glamorous"), but it, too, is nasty, ugly and truly devoid of the usual glamour/thrill of killing (that Coppola, Scorsese and a number of others so love). Even though we're allowed to understand that there will be torture along with the eventual death, the moviemakers -- Daniel Grou (shown at right, who used to be known as Podz) and screenwriter Sylvain Guy, from the non-fiction book by André Cédilot and André Noël  -- avoid showing us most of these actual killings. We view a few quick ones via gunshot, but what could be simply slasher-porn is avoided visually yet still imprinted on us via smartly doled-out information.

The movie begins with a kind of massacre (which we thankfully do not witness) that then hangs over the entire film. We, along with most of the characters here, come back to it again and again, trying to understand the "why" of it all, because it is truly so disgusting. The burgeoning results of this massacre are felt throughout, even as the movie expands into so many other areas -- most of which allow us to view this Canadian branch of the Italian monstrosity in all its shameful sleaze.

Mafia Inc
 is also memorable for how it handles the distaff side of things. Yes, the males run the operation, but when the chips are down the women prove as strong and possibly even as powerful as the men. The cast of the film is extremely well-chosen, starting with, in the role of the leading mob boss, Francesco Paterno, the fine Italian actor Sergio Castellitto (above center), flanked by the two actors playing his sons: Donny Falsetti, left, and Michael Ricci, right.

The women are led by Mylène Mackay (above), as Paterno's soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Sofie. The characters here span three generations, with even the various "henchmen" roles cast and acted to near-perfection. Messieurs Grou and Guy have cast their movie expertly, and their greatest coup is undoubtedly using the terrific French-Canadian actor Marc-André Grondin (below, of the amazing movie C.R.A.Z.Y.) in the role of an almost-family underling who proves the most vicious and ruthless of all.

Despite its nearly two-and-one-half-hour length, Mafia Inc moves along swiftly, even nearly gracefully, as it ties up all the various "business" arrangements, killings, bribes, betrayals and more, leading to a kind of showdown that we rather know must eventually arrive -- all handled not merely believably but inexorably.

Back to that initial massacre: This is also the event that splits the move in two, morality-wise. Characters either object to the event because it endangered the Mafia's business or because, morally speaking, it crossed a boundary that neither can nor should be tolerated. It also smartly separates, in terms of character, the dogs from the wolves.

In terms of effective organization, plot construction, performance, direction and writing, Mafia Inc sets a very high standard. From Film Movement, in French, Italian and English, with English subtitles as needed, the movie may still be playing in some virtual theaters, is available now via VOD, and hits digital streaming and DVD this coming Tuesday, March 9. Click here for more information.

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