By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
In a genuinely heartfelt and true to life human interest tale, actor Paul Sorvino portrays a former Mafia Capo named Joe Scoleri. However, this isn’t a typical take on Mafia criminals. Writer/director David Rodriguez focuses his story on the man who is Joseph Scoleri, and not the infamous legend his character’s backstory boasts. Rodriguez and Sorvino treat Scoleri as a real, flesh and blood person with the heart, emotions and weaknesses of a man who is facing his mortality and wanting to reconnect with his loved ones before it is time to go.
Joseph Scoleri, known to his neighborhood as “Mr. Joe”, at one time ruled his neighborhood with honor and respect, thus earning the respect of all the residents. That was long ago, though. In the present, Scoleri has been released after serving a twenty year prison sentence. Mr. Joe attempts to adapt to the old neighborhood where some things haven’t changed, while others have changed drastically. He attempts to repair the strain imposed on his relationship with his daughter Rita (Renee Props), that his prison sentence caused. Scoleri has much to learn about modern times, though, and is forced to re-examine the behavior of his past which has almost destroyed his relationship with daughter.
Rodriguez does a tremendous job with his script, and makes a solid film about life, love and relationships. Kudos must be given to Sorvino and Props. Michael Rappaport also stars as Mr. Joe’s next door neighbor Bobby, a man who has always been the son Scoleri never had. He deserves much praise for his performance as well. Some of the ethnic and cultural traits of the characters feel a tad overplayed at moments, but the real heart of the story and characters prevail, making this a film not to miss.