Taking place in the heart of Little Italy — Toronto's hot spot for 20-somethings looking to spend a lot of money to crowd into small spaces — Jerry Ciccoritti's singularly male conversation drama, The Resurrection of Tony Gitone, is very deliberately, specifically Italian. It channels a genre popular in the mid-'90s, where a single setting serves as a breeding ground for male introspection and pretence, often exaggerated by a criminal element or contrived betrayal.
As such, this ersatz showcase for the talents of Toronto-based Italian actors has only a niche appeal, being little more than a series of conversations between archetypal characters.
There's Frankie (Ron Lea), a novelist exploiting familial secrets for personal success; Eddie (Louis Di Bianco), a failed restaurateur; Bruno (Tony Nappo), a chef with a criminal past; Vince (Nick Mancuso), a director that passed on the chance to help Rambo; Leo (John Cassini), a contractor with a deformed penis and cheating wife; and Nino (Fab Filippo), a struggling actor home to brag about his minor success in L.A.
Nino has brought highly popular and successful Spanish actress Vanessa Luna (Paula Rivera) home to show off to his Italian buddies, which is what propels the flimsy plot from beginning to end. They all eat together while discussing "the industry," having loud, obnoxious reactions, when not pairing off in couples to discuss past secrets and scars with utmost melodrama. And since this is a story about the awesomeness of male bonding, the outsider — a woman — is the instigator of conflict and problems.
Each actor does a good job with their respective stereotypical character, having an obvious ease with the other players and situations; it helps make the entire film feel organic, natural and even comic, at times. We genuinely get the sense that these men have known each other for years, being able to vacillate between pathos and anger in the blink of an eye.
It's just unfortunate that everything is so insular — there's really no in for anyone that doesn't share the very specific, almost alienating worldview presented by these men.
Anyone attracted to the material will surely be pleased with what they get, while everyone else will find this a bit of a slog. (Breakthrough Entertainment)