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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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FLIFF Film In Focus: CHICAGO OVERCOAT

Tales of the Mafia continue to fascinate the public. Even after THE GODFATHER trilogy and television's THE SOPRANOS would seem to have covered every angle of this sub-genre, the new American Indie film CHICAGO OVERCOAT still finds some interesting life in the tales of the underground. The film has attracted strong audience response at its premiere at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival this week.

A hit at the recent Chicago International Film Festival, the homegrown production was shot on the streets of Chicago, bringing a lived-in authenticity to its moody story. CHICAGO OVERCOAT is an assured professional directing debut for Brian Caunter, with nimble handling of actors who will be recognizable from earlier crime thrillers. In a mix of classic gangster cinema and the nouveau crime thriller approach championed by Quentin Tarantino, the hardboiled screenplay has an ironic, almost kitschy feel without taking away from the reality of the characters.

The film opens in Cook County Jail, where mob boss Stefano D’Agnostino (Armand Assante) is being held for trial on various racketeering charges. He orders his lawyer to have the witnesses silenced. D’Agnostino’s second in command, Lorenzo Galante (Mike Starr), reluctantly gives the job to 65-year-old mob soldier Lou Marazano (Frank Vincent), who has been itching to make some real money after spending 20 years performing small-time strong-arm jobs.

The film offers a fast-paced cops-and-mobsters saga that gets a bit of star power from brief appearances by Assante and Stacy Keach. But it is the character actors playing mobsters and cops who fill the screen with anger, regret, petty politics, and longing that propel this procedural beyond caricature. A standout is Frank Vincent, who has built an entire career's work as a mobster and hitman, who gives a bravura, career-capping performance as the cold-blooded killer with a troubled conscience and a surprisingly open heart. His move from family tenderness to scenes of sudden violence sums up this world in precious detail. This is a film that deserves a life beyond the festival circuit.


Sandy Mandelberger, Fort LauderdaleFestival Dailies Editor
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Chatelin Bruno
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