In Providence's Italian neighborhood, Federal Hill, five young men face their choices as they become adults. Bobby, who's sort of dim, owes $30,000 to a counterfeiter who's demanding ... See full summary »
In Providence's Italian neighborhood, Federal Hill, five young men face their choices as they become adults. Bobby, who's sort of dim, owes $30,000 to a counterfeiter who's demanding payment; he asks Ralph, a gifted cat burglar, to help and Ralph comes up with a plan. Later, Frank's dad, who is one of the Hill's top mobsters, wants to have a talk with Ralph about some of this plan. Meanwhile, Ralph's best friend Nicky falls hard for Wendy, a rich blond from Brown, and Nicky begins to imagine a future with her away from Providence. Ralph thinks Nicky's making a big mistake and sets out to prove it. When Ralph insults Frank's dad, things come to a head. Written by
Providence, Rhode Island, and in particular its neighbourhood of the title, serves as but one among many interesting personalities in this well-wrought feature film debut of its director/scriptor Michael Corrente. Completed in less than one month and having a sparse budget, the skillfully edited work benefits from a forcefully driven narrative that includes several parallel plot strings. Five Italian-American friends share the major portion of the scenario, with brothers Ralphie (Nicholas Turturro) and Nicky (Anthony DeSando) having their close relationship jeopardized by the latter's romantic involvement with a Brown University co-ed. At the same time, their cousin Bobby (Jason Andrews) finds himself dangerously in debt and when collection time nears, Ralphie agrees to help him raise the needed cash through an ingenious and illicit scheme. Based upon an early single act play by Corrente, later expanded to a full-length piece, "Ledge Street", this production displays a strong motif dealing with the difficulty of overcoming class distinctions. Shot with black and white stock, appropriate for its mise-en-scène, the picture was slated by its distributor, Trimark, for colourization to make it palatable for movie theatre audiences, but Corrente did not back away from his chiaroscuro vision and it remained as his perception dictated, although he permitted colour processing (under his oversight) for its video release, it therefore owning an odd distinction of being the only modern U.S. black and white film that had colour added for home consumption. The interlaced lives of the principal characters are strongly portrayed by the cast, Turturro nabbing acting honours with a passionate and layered performance, with only the female lead, in her initial feature, failing to convince in her rôle. Cinematographer Richard Crudo obviously is a creative partner here of Corrente, and there is a great deal of originality within his compositions, while he is able to make something fresh with use of closeups. A feeling is generated that the Federal Hill district has its distinctive persona, and incisive dialogue binds a viewer's attention to Ralphie and Nicky's widely variable states of mind in a film that carves a niche for its cinematic métier and for its director.
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