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Review: Caper Flick ‘Rob the Mob’ Is the Best Time You’ll Have at the Movies So Far This Year

Review: Caper Flick 'Rob the Mob' Is the Best Time You'll Have at the Movies So Far This Year

The New York-based, New York-centric Raymond De Felitta has
been the Jean Renoir of the outer-boroughs since the tender “Two-Family House”
(2000) made a star-crossed Shangri-La out of Staten Island. (His debut short,
“Bronx Cheers” and the popular family drama/comedy “City Island” 2009 were set
in the Bronx.) His latest “Rob the Mob,” which arrives in NY theaters Friday
(March 28 in LA), is situated largely in Queens, but is a radical change of
pace for the director in terms of both style and subject. And it offers the
best time to be had at the movies thus far this year.

A caper
flick-cum-love-story-cum-road movie — even if all the roads seem to be Northern
Boulevard or Jamaica Avenue — “RTM” is based on the crime spree, or the
Is-It-Really-a-Crime? spree, committed by a pair of young lovers who robbed
Mafia social clubs in the early ‘90s. In the process, they inadvertently
acquired a handwritten list of the Gambino family hierarchy, something that
became an indispensable tool in the feds’ war on the Italian mob in New York.

De Felitta’s
indispensable tool is Nina Arianda, for whom “Rob the Mob” could and should be
a breakout of Goldie Hawn-Sissy Spacek-Jean Seberg-Juliette Lewis proportions
(each of whom played the female half of a felonious duo; see answers below*). As
daffy as her Rosemarie is, she’s also the brains of the outfit, her boyfriend
Tommy Uva (Michael Pitt) having not really thought out the endgame of
humiliating the Mafia, which is what Tommy and Rosemarie do when they rob the
mobsters, and steal their clothes, and a picture of them in their underwear ends
up a NYC tabloid, courtesy of crime reporter Jerry Cardozo (a terrific Ray

For that matter, everybody’s terrific.
The gifted but erratic Pitt, who has a log-jam of projects pending, lives up to his potential. Andy Garcia puts
new layers on that old warhorse of a character, the Mafia capo, and Griffin
Dunne — who plays Rosemarie’s whacky boss at the bill-collection agency — is
en route to having a second career as America’s most insanely versatile
character actor. Not everyone even realized it was him as the expatriate doctor
in “Dallas Buyers Club”; his brief turn in the upcoming “Blood Ties” is a
revelation. In “Rob the Mob,” his silly wisdom is precisely what De Felitta
needed to bridge the angst of the mob and the cockeyed bliss of his gun-crazy

Working off a
sparkler of a script by Jonathan Fernandez, De Felitta is also going new places
visually, capturing Queens and its criminals in a hopped-up, handheld fashion,
eschewing the more traditional style he’d employed in the past. What hasn’t
changed is his innate feel for character, coupled here to a crime story that’s
simply irresistible.

(*Answers: “Sugarland
Express,” “Badlands,” “Breathless,” “Natural Born Killers.”)

“Rob the Mob” hits theaters March 21, via Millennium Entertainment.

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