An old feud between two rival families is rekindled by a forbidden love: the one between Andrea (Francesco Patanè), reluctant heir of the Malatesta, and Marilena (Elodie), beautiful wife of the boss of the Camporeale clan. A fatal passion that sets the two clans at war again. But Marilena, banished by the Camporeale and prisoner of the Malatesta, disputed and abused, will oppose a fate already written with a mother’s strength.

Antonella W. Gaeta, Pippo Mezzapesa & Davide Serino have written a modern mafiosi-western that’s as cinematic as can be, and definitely benefits from being seen on the big screen. Ti mangio il cuore (literally translates as “I’ll eat your heart”) creates a world that’s lost in time and lives on by its own set of rules and traditions. Cruelty and passion walk hand in hand, while blood gets spilled like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Is love and destiny worth all this bloodshed, or can these two loved ones create a future that hasn’t been written in stone?

Mezzapesa masterfully directs an Italian black-and-white film that’s often as violent as it is sexy, but knows when to dial it back to let the story breathe for a moment. Ferocious killing sprees and hierarchical power moves dominate this two hour long film, but Mezzapesa clearly also has a sense of humour when one scene in particular shows two men in a car being shot at and try to escape, while the highly energetic Dragostea Din Tei keeps playing on the radio. Probably my favourite scene of any film in 2022.

The cast, lead by the enigmatic Elodie and transformative Francesco Patanè, are all beyond talented. Their performances are praiseworthy and will hopefully be witnessed by audiences beyond the Italian borders. On a technical level, the film is nearly flawless, although I believe the film should’ve leaned into a more adult rating, as now it feels like it’s holding back a little bit on some of the violence being shown on screen (cut aways and off screen kills).

Ti mangio il cuore is classic Italian cinema being brought to life with a timeless and artistically modern eye.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), September 4, 2022. Running time: 115 min.

PRODUCTION: An Indigo Film production with Rai Cinema, in collaboration with Paramount+. Producers: Carlotta Calori, Francesca Cima, Nicola Giuliano & Viola Prestieri.

CREW: Director: Pippo Mezzapesa. Writers: Antonella W. Gaeta, Pippo Mezzapesa & Davide Serino. Cinematography: Michele D’Attanasio. Editing: Vincenzo Soprano. Music: Teho Teardo.

CAST: Elodie, Francesco Patanè, Francesco Di Leva, Lidia Vitale, Brenno Placido, Tommaso Ragno & Michele Placido.

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