Monday, 24 May 2010
DVD REVIEW: THE SICILIAN GIRL
Available now on DVD
When young Rita Atria witnesses the murder of her father, Don Michele, by a member of a rival mafia gang, she is galvanized; devoting her life to avenging his death. Biding her time until she can do something, Rita keeps diaries of everything she sees and hears in her Sicilian village related to mafia activity.
At 17, Rita (Veronica D'Agostino) takes her collection of diaries to the police in Palermo where they are able to match dates with known criminal activity, setting in motion a police operation which aims to bring the Sicilian gangs, led by Don Salvo (Mario Pupella), who ordered the hit on Rita's father, to trial and, hopefully, justice.
Marco Amenta's film is a 'fictionalized account loosely based' on the life and writings of Rita Atria, but that hasn't given him license to be overly dramatic or sensational. If anything, the first time director has opted for a low-key, matter of fact approach to the material.
And Rita, as portrayed by D'Agostino, is no saint or ready-made martyr; she is one of the most stubborn and prickly heroine/victims you are likely to come across. Despite being placed in witness protection, and being number one on the mafia hit list, she confounds the police (and the audience) with her contrary actions. It's not until those around her begin to die that she wises up, and it may take you just as long to warm to her.
As a 'one person can make a difference' crusader film, The Sicilian Girl ends on a rather sombre and sobering note. But seeing the early 1990s news footage of the anti-mafia/pro-Rita protests, and knowing the voice over readings throughout the film come from Rita Atria's actual journals, provide some balance and even a sense of hope.