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Review: 'Rob the Mob' brews nostalgia for early-'90s NYC

In Raymond De Felitta's tale, lovebird outlaws rob unarmed mobsters. The tabloidy subject matter comes off instead as humanist, steeped in a love for Dinkins-era New York.

March 27, 2014|By Martin Tsai
  • Nina Arianda, left, and Michael Pitt in a scene from "Rob the Mob."
Nina Arianda, left, and Michael Pitt in a scene from "Rob the Mob." (Millennium Entertainment )

In spite of what the tabloidy typography in the title sequence might suggest, "Rob the Mob" skims over the lifted-from-the-headlines exploits of an outlaw couple and gleans a humanist drama steeped in sentimentality.

Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda star as Tommy and Rosie Uva, real-life lovebirds who held up a series of mob social clubs in the early 1990s after learning from the John Gotti trial that the bling-adorned clientele was customarily unarmed.

Director Raymond De Felitta, who, finally scoring a sleeper breakout in 2009 with "City Island," resumes painting New York in nostalgia in this film, much as he did in "Two Family House" (2000) and "Café Society" (1995).

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Throughout "Rob the Mob," De Felitta maintains an unfailingly sympathetic stance toward the lovers and the mafiosi alike, while keeping enough distance from all to disapprove of their dirty deeds and deter any viewer identification with them.

The filmmaker seems wistful more for the simpler time than for the characters therein. Period details are lovingly rendered with soft focus, slow motion and hand-held Steadicam.

While New York City during the Dinkins era might have been ridden with crime and sleaze, to De Felitta it also exuded an innocence. It was a time when gangsters didn't pack heat at gatherings and small-time thieves were audacious enough to take on wise guys.

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"Rob the Mob"

MPAA rating: R for language, sexual material and brief drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica.

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