La Mafia Uccide Solo d’Estate (The Mafia Kills Only in Summer)CultureCinemaMovie reviews
Far from the glamorous Hollywood depictions of terrifying but charming mafia bosses, La Mafia Uccide Solo d’Estate (The Mafia Kills Only in Summer) shows the true face of Sicilian organised crime, the bloodshed it has caused in the region’s capital, Palermo, and the tangible impact it keeps having on the inhabitants of the Mediterranean city.
Directed by Pierfrancesco Diliberto (better known as “Pif”), a well-known figure of Italian television whose provocative reportage is famous for a voluntarily naive approach to controversial and overlooked subjects, the film follows his success as a journalist and adopts this same style to address a strongly felt personal and collective cause.
Seamlessly blurring the lines between an autobiographical documentary and a historic reconstruction, La Mafia Uccide Solo d’Estate follows the childhood of Arturo, his little boy troubles, his dreams of becoming a journalist, and above all his love for Flora, a pretty, blonde classmate. But Arturo can’t have a normal life, because he is from Palermo: a difficult city where mafia (Cosa Nostra) assassinations and infamous political scandals dog his childhood and open his young eyes to the harshness of his reality. As Arturo becomes older and mafia bosses become stronger, his battle for the girl he loves crosses paths several times with the battles of many unsung heroes who lost their lives fighting for justice.
Pif’s awkward humour, constant self-deprecation and pretend ingenuousness reveal the wittiest and sharpest comments on the darker sides of Palermo’s society. Glimpses of archive footage are inserted in the fiction, which in turn creeps into the recorded images, while the characters weave themselves into history thanks to admirable editing tricks. The 80s aesthetics are on-point, from production design to colour palette, while innumerable details are built around solid national references, impossible to miss for several generations of Italians. Some of these will sadly be lost in translation with the (however well-deserved) international distribution of the film, but hopefully the core message will remain intact, flagrant in a series of grotesque sketches portraying a sad reality: so absurd in its gratuitous violence, a farcical comedy to grunt at through gritted teeth, and a wake-up call about the freedom Cosa Nostra bosses enjoy(ed).
Addressing the history of the second mafia war (1980s-90s), as well as the culture and mentality still upholding the stronghold of this overbearing and sanguinary control today, La Mafia Uccide solo d’Estate is a heartfelt testimony of Palermo’s difficult history with and of mafia, an ever-present wound that keeps opening to this date. A city where commemorative plaques on every other street constantly remind residents of the sacrifices of Sicilian heroes, Palermo deserved a film like Pierfrancesco Diliberto’s – brutally honest and unflinching, but moving and encouraging.
La Mafia Uccide Solo d’Estate (The Mafia Kills Only in Summer) is released in selected cinemas on 1st July 2016.
Watch the trailer for La Mafia Uccide Solo d’Estate (The Mafia Kills Only in Summer) here: