Quel bravo ragazzo: A Voltairian Candide in Sicily
by Camillo De Marco
- Herbert Ballerina, best known for appearing in Maccio Capatonda’s fake trailers, stars in the film by Enrico Lando, which stems from an idea that a fan came up with
Luigi Luciano, best known to internet users as Herbert Ballerina in Maccio Capatonda’s legendary fake trailers and in the TV series Mario, now has a starring role in Quel bravo ragazzo [+see also:
film profile] (lit. “That Fine Boy”), set to hit 300 Italian screens on Thursday 17 November, courtesy of Medusa.
The Italian title of the film mimics Scorsese’s Goodfellas (Quei bravi ragazzi in Italian) and does indeed tell a story about the Sicilian Mafia, but imbued with a completely farcical tone. The production, staged by Marco Belardi of Lotus, together with Medusa, entrusted the direction to a bankable name from the Taodue stable: Padua-born Enrico Lando, the creator and director of the popular TV series I soliti idioti, which, when combined with the two even more successful film versions, has grossed €20 million. What is interesting (some might even say perplexing) is that the film stems from an idea developed by a fan, Ciro Zecca, subsequently turned into a screenplay by Gianluca Ansanelli and Andrea Agnello.
The script and direction lean mainly on a young Voltairian Candide figure played by Herbert Ballerina; Lando even claims to see a modern-day Buster Keaton in Herbert. And sure enough, in the film, the main character is Leone, a naïve 30-year-old who grew up in an orphanage, who suddenly finds out that he is the son of a Sicilian Mafia boss at death’s door. Having so far only been an altar boy, he must now prepare to run his father’s “business”, surrounded by merciless henchmen and a devious lawyer who must turn this youngster who wouldn’t hurt a fly into a true “man of honour”. But the young man’s naiveté draws the attention of a pretty police officer (Daniela Virgilio) as she tries to blow the lid off the Mafia clan.
Role models cited by Herbert Ballerina range from Roberto Benigni in Johnny Stecchino, through Edward Scissorhands and Forrest Gump, to Peter Sellers in Being There. But this rather deflated brand of comedy has nothing in common with the absurd and ruthless satire of Italian society brought to life by the world of Maccio Capatonda (aka Marcello Macchia, who plays a priest in this film) – where Herbert Ballerina actually hails from. The film trundles towards its conclusion, but it only gets there thanks to the extraordinary cast that flanks and props up the main character, comprising Tony Sperandeo, Enrico Lo Verso, Ninni Bruschetta and Luigi Maria Burruano. They are all Sicilian actors who, thanks to their past performances, have restored the true face of the Mafia, and they lend themselves very well to this almost fairy tale-like vision of the “goodfellas”.
(Translated from Italian)
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