Love and Bullets – Underworld Romance

REVIEW/NATION
by Diana Ushkar
20.05.2021
Love and Bullets (2017) is a musical directed by the Manetti Bros. about a Mafia boss and his henchmen. The film is Neapolitan and it plays tribute to local stereotypes and jokes; its songs and dialogues consist of Neapolitan words, and its Naples setting itself means the criminals onscreen are technically part of the Camorra. In general, it is an entertaining mix of dark drama, broad slapstick, wonderful musical numbers and surprisingly resonant emotions.
The film opens at the funeral of Don Vincenzo Strozzalone (Carlo Buccirosso), whose widow, Donna Maria (Claudia Gerini), is beside herself with grief. But, frankly speaking, her grieving looks like a cheaply made play, as she cries in excess. Though Don Vincenzo was the underworld's Fish King, who controlled all the seafood in Naples, and his death looks like the rival clan finally got to him, the first appearing song reveals that things are not as easy as they may look. Sung by the corpse inside a coffin, it tells us that they are not burying Don Vincenzo at all but someone who looks like him and who's wondering who all these strangers at his memorial service are.
Time goes five days back and the main plot unfolds. After Don Vincenzo is shot in the rear, his beloved wife Donna Maria, a fan of blockbusters, being tired of the hazards of Camorra life, has decided to give herself and her husband a life away from crime and the spotlight. She recalls the plot of You Only Live Twice (1967) and comes up with an idea to fake her husband's death like the agent 007 did.
A look-alike shoe salesman is killed and substituted for Don Vincenzo, who hides out with Maria in their panic suite under the house. Only his closest associates know the truth. His two henchmen, Rosario (actor-singer Raiz) and Ciro (Giampaolo Morelli), known as the Tigers, are tasked to make sure no one finds out that Don Vincenzo didn't die of a gun wound. If everything turns out good, they would be rewarded with the inheritance of the empire of the Fish King.

There's one hitch: Nurse Fatima (Serena Rossi) saw Don Vincenzo in the hospital alive, so Ciro and Rosario ought to kill her. Surprisingly, when Ciro sees Fatima, he recognizes his childhood sweetheart in her, the only woman he's ever really loved. The feeling is mutual, in fact, and their love story is described in the following song "What a Feeling" (Neapolitan cover). Ciro chooses Fatima over Vincenzo and a life of riches and runs away with the woman. This, however, comes at a price, and the rest of the film Ciro has to fight off Vincenzo's small army of allies, from his former closest friend Rosario to various other unsavory-looking types, who all want to avenge their (now supposedly dead) boss.
As the title suggests, this is a love story set against the backdrop of crime. These motives are expressed through the movie's numerous musical scenes. The film's musical highlight, an original song called "Bang Bang," was written by Pivio and Aldo de Scalzi and is sung by Fatima. She's handcuffed to Ciro, who literally mows down one bad guy after the other, while she belts out a song about how he avoids his feelings like he avoids bullets. Musical numbers are generously inserted during all the crucial moments, with lyrics that carry the narrative and offer some insight into characters whose depths aren't exactly profound.

Speaking about the actors, Gerini (Donna Maria) is the most impressive one. She plays the aggrieved widow and goes full-out over-the-top in her performance. She does a great job representing a colorful character of the crime boss's wife. Her enthusiasm and life energy cheer up, and her dedication to her husband could melt the viewers' hearts. Actress also depicts Donna Maria's obsession with movies very well, which is one of the main resources of the film's humor. For example, Maria's 007 revelation is carried over into Bond-inspired scenes of speed boats in the Bay of Naples — and that is really amusing. There's also a hilarious in-joke that alludes to Gerini's turn in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004), in which, just as Pontius Pilate's wife, she spoke Latin. But Gerini's Donna Maria here fails to comprehend the dead language whenever her Latin adage-spouting lawyer turns up. Buccirosso (Don Vincenzo), for his part, also does a great job: he manages the difficult feat of making the Fish King seem both powerful and pathetic.
The budget for Love and Bullets must have far exceeded the directors' previous efforts: besides expansive scenes throughout the city, there's also a New York sequence (Camorra families have long arms), as well as explosions, boat chases and modest production numbers. All scenes look impressive and solid, in contrast with the ironic plot, and this blend has a fantastic effect.
 
Love and Bullets - Underworld Romance
REVIEW/NATION
by Diana Ushkar
20.05.2021
Love and Bullets (2017) is a musical directed by the Manetti Bros. about a Mafia boss and his henchmen. The film is Neapolitan and it plays tribute to local stereotypes and jokes; its songs and dialogues consist of Neapolitan words, and its Naples setting itself means the criminals onscreen are technically part of the Camorra. In general, it is an entertaining mix of dark drama, broad slapstick, wonderful musical numbers and surprisingly resonant emotions.
The film opens at the funeral of Don Vincenzo Strozzalone (Carlo Buccirosso), whose widow, Donna Maria (Claudia Gerini), is beside herself with grief. But, frankly speaking, her grieving looks like a cheaply made play, as she cries in excess. Though Don Vincenzo was the underworld's Fish King, who controlled all the seafood in Naples, and his death looks like the rival clan finally got to him, the first appearing song reveals that things are not as easy as they may look. Sung by the corpse inside a coffin, it tells us that they are not burying Don Vincenzo at all but someone who looks like him and who's wondering who all these strangers at his memorial service are.

Time goes five days back and the main plot unfolds. After Don Vincenzo is shot in the rear, his beloved wife Donna Maria, a fan of blockbusters, being tired of the hazards of Camorra life, has decided to give herself and her husband a life away from crime and the spotlight. She recalls the plot of You Only Live Twice (1967) and comes up with an idea to fake her husband's death like the agent 007 did.
A look-alike shoe salesman is killed and substituted for Don Vincenzo, who hides out with Maria in their panic suite under the house. Only his closest associates know the truth. His two henchmen, Rosario (actor-singer Raiz) and Ciro (Giampaolo Morelli), known as the Tigers, are tasked to make sure no one finds out that Don Vincenzo didn't die of a gun wound. If everything turns out good, they would be rewarded with the inheritance of the empire of the Fish King.

There's one hitch: Nurse Fatima (Serena Rossi) saw Don Vincenzo in the hospital alive, so Ciro and Rosario ought to kill her. Surprisingly, when Ciro sees Fatima, he recognizes his childhood sweetheart in her, the only woman he's ever really loved. The feeling is mutual, in fact, and their love story is described in the following song "What a Feeling" (Neapolitan cover). Ciro chooses Fatima over Vincenzo and a life of riches and runs away with the woman. This, however, comes at a price, and the rest of the film Ciro has to fight off Vincenzo's small army of allies, from his former closest friend Rosario to various other unsavory-looking types, who all want to avenge their (now supposedly dead) boss.
As the title suggests, this is a love story set against the backdrop of crime. These motives are expressed through the movie's numerous musical scenes. The film's musical highlight, an original song called "Bang Bang," was written by Pivio and Aldo de Scalzi and is sung by Fatima. She's handcuffed to Ciro, who literally mows down one bad guy after the other, while she belts out a song about how he avoids his feelings like he avoids bullets. Musical numbers are generously inserted during all the crucial moments, with lyrics that carry the narrative and offer some insight into characters whose depths aren't exactly profound.

Speaking about the actors, Gerini (Donna Maria) is the most impressive one. She plays the aggrieved widow and goes full-out over-the-top in her performance. She does a great job representing a colorful character of the crime boss's wife. Her enthusiasm and life energy cheer up, and her dedication to her husband could melt the viewers' hearts. Actress also depicts Donna Maria's obsession with movies very well, which is one of the main resources of the film's humor. For example, Maria's 007 revelation is carried over into Bond-inspired scenes of speed boats in the Bay of Naples — and that is really amusing. There's also a hilarious in-joke that alludes to Gerini's turn in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004), in which, just as Pontius Pilate's wife, she spoke Latin. But Gerini's Donna Maria here fails to comprehend the dead language whenever her Latin adage-spouting lawyer turns up. Buccirosso (Don Vincenzo), for his part, also does a great job: he manages the difficult feat of making the Fish King seem both powerful and pathetic.
The budget for Love and Bullets must have far exceeded the directors' previous efforts: besides expansive scenes throughout the city, there's also a New York sequence (Camorra families have long arms), as well as explosions, boat chases and modest production numbers. All scenes look impressive and solid, in contrast with the ironic plot, and this blend has a fantastic effect.
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