Thursday, May 4, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
To imbue this review with the spirit of “Mafia Mamma”, I refuse to refer to the film as pastiche – instead, I dub it a “pasticcio”. Please: cue the weeping strings, the long, drawn-out horn, and “leave the gun, take the cannoli.”
Mafia Mamma is, at its purest, a fish-out-of-water comedy where the fish has been dropped into a nice Napoletana Sauce; it is unabashedly inspired by every mafia trope ever from every mafia film ever (Especially “The Godfather”). There’s a premise and a promise of goofiness in that. And being directed by the talented Catherine Hardwicke – whom audiences would vaguely know from her directorship on “Twilight” – though, ever since then, she’s flitted between television and film directing; notably in “This Is Us” and “Guillermo del Tor’s Cabinet of Curiosities” – the offer to see Mafia Mamma seems to be one audience can’t refuse.
Hardwicke again directs Toni Collette, having worked with the star in 2015’s “Miss You Already” (A brilliant performance from Collette, as ever). And here, she portrays the self-effacing American helicopter-mom Katherine, and inherits her grandfather's mafia empire in Italy – becoming the eponymous Mafia Mamma. And she carries the film with her charm, despite an often-flailing script that seems torn between mafia motifs and Hallmark travel films. Based on a short story by French novelist Amanda Sthers, Mafia Mamma has some deft flourishes to it.
So, guided by the firm's consigliere, Bianca (Monica Belluci), Collette attempts to defy everyone's expectations as the new head of the family business. A sort of female-empowerment narrative ensues – the lacking in confidence Collette tries to find her feet in Italy in an “Eat, Pray, Copulate” approach -- but the film seems remiss to commit to it wholeheartedly. Despite the detractors, Mafia Mamma cuts a goofy figure worth the watch.
Mafia Mamma (R) is playing at the Proserpine Entertainment Centre this Sunday, May 7.
Review by Declan Durrant.