The Mafia Kills Only in Summer (La Mafia Uccide Solo D’ Estate) is a 2013 Italian comedy-drama film.
I was slow on the uptake when this movie was included as part of the 2015 Italian Film Festival here in Perth during March and April. By the time I decided to buy tickets both outdoor venues were sold out.
So I bought the Blu-Ray instead …
The Italian Senate President and former anti-mafia magistrate Pietro Grasso referred to this film as the best film work on the Sicilian Mafia ever made. It was awarded best comedy film at the 27th European Film Awards, and marks the directorial debut of the TV satirist (and son of the Italian director Maurizio Diliberto) Pierfrancesco “Pif” Diliberto.
Pif also wrote the screenplay and stars in the second half of the movie as Arturo a would-be journalist whose childhood (featured in the first half of the movie) is punctuated by the Mafia killings happening around him in the Sicilian city of Palermo.
Indeed, what gives this black comedy its blackness, and its punch, are the stills of real-life Mafia slayings, and the real-life footage of the funerals of Mafia victims, interspersed between the fictional scenes.
There are real-life press clippings …
… and dotted around Palermo, real-life plaques commemorating the assassinations of judges and policemen …
… black deeds that blot what is essentially the story of two childhood sweethearts.
As a boy, Arturo (Alex Bisconti) falls in love with, and attempts to woo, his new classmate, Flora (Ginevra Antona), the daughter of a local bank manager.
When Arturo asks his father for advice about love his father avoids the subject. Luckily for Arturo his question is answered, or so it seems, by the then Prime Minister of Italy Guilio Andreotti who, during a TV interview, describes how he proposed to his wife in a cemetery.
Thinking that Italy’s most powerful (and by implication corrupt1) politician is talking to him directly through the medium of the TV screen, Arturo becomes obsessed with Andreotti, to the point of collecting newspaper clippings about him …
… and to the point of dressing up as his hero for a Fancy Dress competition (which he wins).
The childhood scenes during the first half of the film are charming, but for me the charm (and the plot) falls flat after the roles of Arturo and Flora are eventually assumed by adult actors.
Pif the TV clown is unconvincing as a romantic lead, and the foundation of the rekindled romance between Arturo and Flora is sketchy and implausible.
Sadly, this was not the black comedy I was expecting, nor the typewriter movie I was hoping for despite a few promising Olivetti sightings that began with a Mafia-owned Summa calculator …
… and a scene involving the grown-up Arturo two-finger typing unconvincingly on a curvaceous (Olivetti probably) electronic wedge …
Come to think of it, everything about the leading man was unconvincing.
It’s just as well I came across this publicity shot of the lovely Cristiana Capotondi and her Lettera 32 …
Blink during the movie and you’ll miss it.
Despite its shortcomings, this is still a movie worth watching. It’s a good directorial debut by Pif. However, had he delegated the role of the grown-up Arturo to a serious actor, and had he spent more time on the second-half of the script, it could have been a great one.
1 In the 1980s, Guilio Andreotti came under suspicion for having Mafia associations because his relatively small faction within the Christian Democrats included Sicilian Salvatore Lima (portrayed briefly in the movie).
In Sicily, Lima cooperated with the Palermo-based Mafia, which operated below the surface of public life by using control of large numbers of votes to enable mutually beneficial relationships with local politicians.
After he left office in 1993, Andreotti was subjected to damaging criminal prosecutions. He was charged with colluding with Cosa Nostra, but the allegations against him were never satisfactorily proven and he was completely acquitted in 2004.