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Australian Toni Collette stars in good-natured romp Mafia Mamma

Toni Collette stars in Mafia Mamma

Source: Bleecker Street

This is something of a good-natured romp that plays on inverted expectations when naive American housewife Kristin – played by Toni Collette – inherits the leadership of Italian mafia gang, the Balbanos.

The film’s comic violence is not entirely benign. When Kristin, frantically and inexpertly, foils an attack from a member of the rival Romano gang, she stabs him with her stiletto so viciously they discover scrotal tissue embedded in his eye. Kudos, Kristin, at least in these circles.

Collette, nevertheless, anchors this improbable tale with a lot of goofy charm.

At home, Kristin bakes trail mix for her disdainful son, who can’t wait to leave for college, then catches her man-child of a husband, Paul (Tim Daish), with a young woman.

So there’s not a lot to miss when she gets the call to say there is a ticket to Italy waiting and she is to be there tomorrow night for the funeral of her grandfather, Don Giuseppe (Alessandro Bressanello) – an event which turns into a bloodbath.

“What did my grandfather actually do again?” she inquires.

In Italy, Kristin is made welcome by the splendid Bianca (Monica Bellucci), who manages to keep her beautiful face straight while delivering lines like, “we need someone who is unassuming, level-headed and empathetic”.

Mafia Mamma has some genuine comic moments as the Balbanos go to war with the Romanos and, during the mayhem, Kristin simultaneously brasses up her wardrobe to Valentino (there is product placement) while following a personal path to self-empowerment.

Italy has never looked better with its cobbled streets and ancient bell towers, even when blood flows in the streets. It provides a perfect backdrop to Kristin’s journey towards meaning, which never gets too serious and mocks the self-important hype of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love (which one of the gangsters has read).

Kristin is happy to eat and pray but she hasn’t had sex for three years; she just wants to get laid.

There is a lot of colour and movement involving law enforcement and a trial before we get to the real task at hand; winemaking.

Director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Thirteen) doesn’t take the plot too seriously and asks you to return the favour.

Really, the choice between a boorish son and idiot husband, and a blood-stained vineyard in rural Italy, is an offer Kristin cannot refuse.

Mafia Mamma is in cinemas now.

This review first appeared in InDaily. Read the original here.

Topics: Movies
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