An Action-Comedy Where Mobsters Sing is a Terrible Idea. I loved it.

Ammore e Malavita (notice the double “mm” to accentuate the Neapolitan “That’s Amore” spirit), is a delightful musical action dramedy signed by Italian Manetti Bros. The duo-director from Naples has constructed an effective Parthenopean snapshot, acted in pure dialect, that does not give into the cliche of the Southern Italian postcard “pizza, mandolino, ‘O Sole Mio.”

The film (Love and Bullets is the international title) begins with the funeral of the Camorra boss Don Vincenzo (Carlo Buccirosso), where his flashy blonde widow, Donna Maria (Claudia Gerini), is flamboyantly torn by grief. After the first song we will discover that this was all a ploy for the couple to retire from crime. However love will get in the way of their subterfuge, as Ciro (Giampaolo Morelli) who used to work for them as killer, is not willing to murder his childhood sweetheart Fatima (Serena Rossi), who involuntarily saw that Don Vincenzo is still alive.

The scene where we see the star-crossed lovers reunite is a reworking of the Flashdance song “What a Feeling” in Neapolitan, that will make you fall head over heels for this movie. The original music of this song was written by Italian Giorgio Moroder and the new lyrics are by the film’s songwriter, Alessandro Nelson Garofalo. Another musical highlight is an original song called “Bang Bang,” written by Pivio and Aldo de Scalzi.

Music, action, love, bullets, deliver an enthralling and exciting narrative in a beautiful but dangerous city, that has gained fictional notoriety through Roberto Saviano’s book ‘Gomorra,’ later adapted into a film by director Matteo Garrone and transformed into a television series that ran on Sky Italia and SundanceTV. Along these lines another amusing moment within the suspense and tension of Ammore e Malavita is the musical scene in the neighborhood of Scampia, a large urban housing project that was built between 1962 and 1975 with high hopes for this promising residential area. However various vicissitudes led to what is now regarded as a  ghetto for drug trafficking and gangs, to the extent that the Manetti Bros. insert a satirical scene, where a group of American tourists merrily sing about their “ultimate touristic experience” after getting robbed.

Mockery becomes the counterbalance to socially conscious films, ones that tackle crime topics with great seriousness and rawness. Nevertheless, in this case humor proves to be just as effective in denouncing corruption and delinquency, providing a comic relief also through the powerful message conveyed by love. The fairytale touch enhances the moral of the story, whilst the song and dance routines are incredibly contagious, thanks to the skillful cast who is visibly enjoying every minute of the performance.