The Resurrection of Tony Gitone

The Resurrection of Tony Gitone featured image

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Jerry Ciccoritti, director and co-script with Svet Rouskov and Jennifer Deyell

Starring: Starring: Tony Nardi (Mario), Fabrizio Filipo (Nino), Paula Rivera (Vanessa Luna), Nick Mancuso (Vince), Ron Lea (Frank), Alvaro di Antonio (Albert), Tony Nappo (Bruno), John Cassini (Leo), Louis di Biano (Eddie), Michael Miranda (John)


The buzz
Jerry Ciccoritti, the multiple Gemini (now Canadian Screen Award) winning director of Canadian TV movies (Trudeau, John A.: Birth of a Century, Net Worth, The Life and Death of Nancy Eaton) has assembled an all-star cast of Italian Canadians to make a film shot in the iconic College Street bistro “Il Gatto Nero.” Among the actors in the film are Tony Nardi, Nick Mancuso and Fabrizio Filippo. Can he burst out of his box as an acclaimed TV director with this feature film?


The genres
Melodrama; Italian-American (Ok, Canadian) character study


The premise

Nino (Filippo) is back in Toronto, a conquering hero. He’s been in Hollywood for years and now he’s going to star in a film with Vanessa Luna (Rivera), shot in his old hometown. Mario (Nardi), his old friend, decides to throw a private birthday party for Nino at “Il Gatto Nero,”’ and invite a bunch of the old gang to celebrate.

But what should be a happy time turns into a tense one for nearly everyone at the bistro. One guy, who was mobbed up and now wants to take over “Il Gatto Nero,” realises that his boss doesn’t really intend to leave the business to him. Two old friends are in love with the same woman—or are they? Another old-timer may be losing his beloved restaurant, to a landlord, who is also at the party.

Nino may not be as happy as he seems. Is he about to be fired from his film? And what about his girlfriend Vanessa—why is she attending this “old boy’s club” party?


The performances
You have to get beyond the clichés but the actors are brilliant. Particularly great is Nick Mancuso as an aging film director, who is recovering from a quadruple bypass—which doesn’t stop him from drinking and eating too much pasta. Equally top notch is Rivera in the thankless role of the Spanish movie star slumming at a bistro in Little Italy with her boy-toy, Nino.

Tony Nardi, Fab Filippo, Louis di Biano: this is a cast worth celebrating. They all do what they can to make this film a success.


The creator
Jerry Ciccoritti is one of Canada’s greatest and most puzzling talents. He’s reeled off success after success on TV but has never been able to make a hit film. Here, his talents are on view: Il Gatto Nero is beautifully evoked, the cinematography is fine and the actors, top notch.

But the script doesn’t work. Ciccoritti is too intelligent to believe in the clichés that are at the heart of the film. By the last 15 minutes, he begins to unravel the plot, exposing its weaknesses.

Perhaps Ciccoritti wants to expose the failures of machismo—and the Italian mythology. But The Resurrection of Tony Gitone doesn’t succeed in doing that, either.


The skinny
The Resurrection of Tony Gitone is a love letter to Toronto’s Little Italy and a vehicle that allows some fine actors to shine. It’s a film that has charm and affection at its core. It’s a pity that the plot can’t sustain this film. A lot of talent is on display here, but, sadly, this is a film that should be viewed on TV or DVD, not in cinemas.

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