Friday, July 22, 2011

Mob Movie: The Sicilian Girl

A young Rita rides with her beloved father Don Michele.
As every man knows there is always a woman who is nagging in the background. For me the one is Mob Mistress. She likes to dictate what I blog about. (It is probably good that she does. If not I'd probably only blog about how I want to run off (with Karen Gravano of Mob Wives and Jacqueline Laurita of The Real Housewives of New Jersey). I digress.  As you some have read I like watching movies. The mistress of the blog asked if I had ever seen "The Sicilian Girl." Of course I hadn't. She would pick one of the few movies I have not watched. 

Today I made an appointment with Netflix and "The Sicillian Girl." The original title of the movie is La Siciliana Ribelle which translates to The Sicilian Rebel. I prefer the original title.  I think it's a better fit for the film than the American title.  But hey what do I know?

The movie is based on a true story of Rita Atria who took on the mafia. It covers the lengths she went to in order to find justice. In a society or lifestyle which does not believe in legal forms of justice. She went against the omertà of the mafia by utilizing the police to help her get justice.

The body of Nino
Why does Rita need justice? The movie starts out with Rita as an eleven year old girl in the mid 1980s.  She lives with her parents and older brother in Balata, Sicily.  She is a typical daddy's girl who follows and idolizes her father. Daughter and father go places and experience their community together.  Rita's mother seems jealous of their bond. Rita's father is Don Michele Mancuso who is a respected person in the community. He's not your local grocer.  He's a wise guy. He believes in the old ways of business talk first but will utilize the whole eye for an eye saying. He uses violence & kills only as a last resort.   There is a fire, a man named Nino has been murdered. A village boy Vito is instructed to take Rita away from the murder seen. Nino's brother and daughter ask the Don for justice.

We fast forward to a procession during a feast; we first see his power as their family walks through the village. Don Michele meets up with Don Salvo Simi. You get the feeling they respect each other.  They are equally cautious with one another. Shortly after, we see the man Bellafiore who committed the murder. He has the murder victim's daughter with him.  Salvo requests to have a talk alone with Bellafiore. He doesn't understand why Michele is upset over the murder of a peasant.  He brags how the victim's daughter is a virgin. He even offers her to Don Michele to enjoy.  He also shares with Don Michele that the wind is changing.  He suggests he sell his land in order to fund a drug business.

We see Bellafiore in the mist of raping the young woman. The next thing we see is the Don with his men taking care of Bellafiore. The police investigate the murder of Bellafiore. They ask questions. The Chief Prosecutor Borsellino laments, " keep living behind the guise of justice and protection from the Mafia. You will never have any justice."

We flashed forward to Rita with her father Don Michele, once again. She is riding her new bike while Don Michele and Don Salvo are discussing business. The discussion pertains to drugs. Don Salvo wants to leap into to drug business full throttle. Don Michele does not. As they finish their conversation, we see men all around, shots ring out. Don Michele is shot. Rita screams for help.  In a neighborhood controlled by gangs, her screams go unanswered.  People turn a blind eye. Rita runs to Don Salvo, not realizing he has a hand in the murder of her beloved father.  She believes him to be a family friend. Her brother Carmelo tells her to never go to him again. Rita is told Don Salvo is the one who murdered their father. They both pledge to get justice. As time goes on, little Rita begins writing in her diary about the people in her village.

We now move forward to 1991. Rita is 17 years old and her brother Camelo tells her it is time to get their revenge. Carmelo goes to the waterfront. Later we hear that there is a body in the water. Rita goes quickly hoping to see Don Salvo, finally avenging the death of her beloved father. Instead she finds that Carmelo has been killed. The boy Vito is now a man.  He and Rita have been boyfriend/girlfriend since the night of Bellafiore's death. She loves Vito and wants to spend her life with him. The twist thickens. Vito works for Don Salvo. The drug business is good money for a young man. Rita seeking justice finds Chief Prosecutor Borsellino in Palermo. He does not want to help because it is the mafia. He discovers Rita has some valuable information.  Information that leads to a major police sting confiscating Don Salvo's drugs. Don Salvo tries to figure out who ratted to the police. Vito (the little bitch) tells Don Salvo that Rita went to the police in Palermo.

I know some of you may be planning on watching this movie on Netflix.  So not wanting to spoil The Sicillian Girl, I suggest you stop reading now.


From this point forward, we see Rita who in the protection of the state. Rita becomes Silvia Bonura the daughter of shopkeepers. The Chief Prosecutor is trying to build a case against the Mafia. He utilizes the jounals that the Rita kept for many years as the basis for his case. Rita for once seems happy but she is alone. She had to leave Vito her first love behind. She left her mother who did not seem to want her anyway. As we progress towards the trial Rita finds another friend Lorenzo who likes her in Rome. She seems happy for a moment.  She seems to be living life.  However, in the bliss of a blossoming romance, she withdraws.  One doesn't know if it's because of her feelings toward Vito or the knowledge she will not live long.

Rita returns to court with the gun of Don Michele and her brother Carmelo.
The trial of Don Salvo and his gang begins. Rita begins to give her testimony. The defense produces a witness who claims Don Michele raped her many times.  The witness is Nino's daughter who Don Michele Mancuso saved from being raped by Bellafiore. The strategy is to bring discredit the information written by a little girl long ago. The Chief Prosecutor asks her to look back and acknowledge her father was also a killer. She meets with her mother who confirms the truth of who her husband and son were. We also understand what the barrier is between mother and daughter. The mother resents how both men protected Rita from the truth. How her daughter was protected from the ugliness of the lifestyle while she washed blood stained clothes of their victims. We get a glimpse of Vito with a bomb maker. 

In court the defense has made it seem as if Rita is delusional and ratting out her father. She returns to court to add to her testimony. Rita owns the truth; her father and brother were killers. They were no better than the filth now on trial. Afterwards, Rita meets with the Chief Prosecutor; they embrace. She knows that they will get a conviction now. As they depart for the night, you get the feeling someone is going to die. As the Chief Prosecutor leaves the courthouse, we hear a large explosion. He is killed. Rita has no one left. Her mother has turned her back completely. She, by tradition, is a victim of the Mafia lifestyle and ways.

Rita is moved to a new hiding place. Lonely she reaches out to Lorenzo and then her mother with no luck.  Finally she calls Vito, thinking she can trust him. He shows up at her hiding place. They embrace, kiss and make love. They both profess their love for each other. Vito asks Rita to take back all of her testimony. He wants her to say it was just an imaginary tale from a little girl. Vito claims he can save her. He wants to marry Rita, making her a proper woman. Vito said that he had Don Salvo's word. Rita is pissed. If she does what Vito asks the Mafia will not be brought to justice. She is angered that Vito would talk of loving her when his loyalty truly lies with his boss, Don Salvo. With the Chief Prosecutor dead, she knows that she will not live for long. Knowing her death with Vito in her room ensures justice will be brought down on Don Salvo, Rita takes her life by jumping off the balcony.  She frees herself and guarantees justice is done for her family and so many others.

Rita Atria, a young women who laid down her life for justice.

Now I really loved The Sicillian Girl. It takes a strong girl with deep convictions to go against a way of life. Even though she killed herself, I think that she was finally free of a lifestyle she did not choose for herself. She became a champion for the people who hated the rise of the Mafia in Italy and the importing of drugs into the country. From beginning to end Rita demonstrated an incredible will and strength. It is subtitled in Italian. I highly recommend the movie! You will not be disappointed, even if you read this entry with the spoiler.  If you've already seen this one or take my advice in the future,  please let me know what you think of The Sicillian Girl. I appreciate all feedback. My wife keeps on watching this movie.  I have a funny suspicion, she has a thing for a couple of the Italian cops;  Women! 


Chiara Soprano said...

WOW! This is one capitvating movie review. I can't believe I haven't heard of this movie before. I am going to check it out asap!

Mob Mistress said...

The language is so very beautiful! I know you won't need to read the subtitles! I love the movie. I cried at the end when she said, "Rita wins."