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VENICE 2007 Competition

Porporati’s bittersweet Mafia

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Porporati’s bittersweet Mafia

Seven years after his feature film debut as a Mafia victim in Giordana’s I cento passi, Italian actor Luigi Lo Cascio returns to the world of organized crime in his native Sicily with Andrea Porporati’s Il dolce e l’amaro. The film, in which Lo Cascio plays a small-time Mafioso, is one of the three Italian Competition titles at the Venice Film Festival.

Il dolce e l’amaro (“Sweet and Bitter”) follows the life of Saro Scordia (Lo Cascio), a young man who is groomed for Cosa Nostra membership by his godfather after the mysterious death of his own father. Throughout his life, Scordia gets his hands dirty but remains a low-level Mafia member before finally becoming a chess piece in a power struggle which forces him to become a Mafia turncoat.

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The film concentrates mainly on the day-to-day activities of Scordia, who is a fictional character created by the writer-director and co-screenwriter Annio Gioacchino Stasi to explore the life of a member of the Mafia “we read about in the newspapers and easily forget,” as the director put it. The film does a deft job of remaining grounded in reality (also established through its production design and period clothes), though its lack of high stakes and action makes the film meander at times.

Lo Cascio impresses, as does Fabrizio Gifuni (who headlined Porporati’s directorial debut La luce negli occhi [+see also:
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) in a supporting role as a judge with a price on his head. Donatella Finocchiaro completes the cast as Scordia’s love of his life, who rejects the Mafia, forcing him to marry someone else.

The film was produced by Francesco Tornatore for Sciarlò and filmed on location in Sicily and Piedmont. It will be released in Italy by Medusa on Wednesday after its Tuesday night premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

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