Putting an irreverent rom-com spin on the organized crime genre, this deceptively sunny rites-of-passage drama marks the big-screen debut of Pierfrancesco “Pif” Diliberto (b. 1972), best known in Italy as a television host and current-affairs satirist. Taking its title from one of the myths that the film’s young hero is taught to believe, The Mafia Only Kills in Summer won the public-vote audience prize at the 2013 Turin Film Festival.
Filming in his native Palermo (and without paying a Mafia protection fee), Pif plays Arturo: a life-long innocent, whose repeated brushes with the Mob parallel his ceaseless yearning for his beautiful schoolmate Flora. Corpses litter the streets, while residents go about their daily lives, reluctant to acknowledge the killers in their midst.
Archival footage (some of it fabricated) underscores a time when the wholesale murder of prominent figures forced the Cosa Nostra into the light. The film pays homage to those who have dared to expose and oppose the endemic corruption and violence. The battle continues.
“Diliberto has devised a rather more unusual method of addressing Palermo’s Mafia infestation. If he can’t fight them, he’ll skewer them – scathingly, uproariously, with great comic verve.” Calum Marsh, Village Voice