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Film Of The Week The horror of Mafia’s dead hand

Maria Duarte is impressed by the superb acting in this true Sicilian mafia cruel tale but is less convinced by some of the production devices

A Sicilian Ghost Story (15)
Directed by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza
 

This powerful and haunting drama is inspired by the real-life kidnapping and murder of Giuseppe di Matteo who was snatched by the Mafia aged 11 in 1993 to stop his Mafia supergrass father from talking to the police.

Based on Marco Mancassola's book the film sticks to the facts of the case. Giuseppe was held for 779 days and tortured before being finally strangled and his body dissolved in acid.

But writers/directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza have added a supernatural twist as Giuseppe is depicted as a ghost imprisoned in a story without redemption and one that has reportedly been haunting Italy ever since.

His shocking and heartbreaking tale apparently rocked Italian society to the core at a time when the Mafia was in open war against Sicilian and Italian society.

In this interpretation a romance blossoms between 13-year-old Giuseppe (Gaetano Fernandez) and his classmate Luna (Julia Jedlikowska) after she declares, out of the blue, her love for him.

They become thick as thieves and a special almost psychic connection develops between the two particularly after his sudden disappearance, which no-one will discuss but she refuses to accept.

Acting for the first time Fernandez and Jedlikowska just blow you away with their impressively effortless performances that capture the innocence of youth and first love.

The film also explores the idea can love save the day. But in fact it is Giuseppe, or his apparition, that saves Luna after she plunges into the dark world that has swallowed him up.

The film is dotted with animal imagery and spiritual animal guides, which it could have done without. The same goes for Luna's stern and controlling mother (Sabine Timoteo), dressed in head-to-toe black channelling Geraldine Chaplin, who seems incongruous and the odd woman out in this ghostly tale.

With its arresting visuals and sublime cast this is an inconceivable and horrifying tale which will haunt you for days.

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