GALANTUOMINI directed by Eduardo Winspeare (Italy, 2008)

Donatella Finocchiaro is a rising star of Italian cinema and with this film she has a lead role written specifically for her.

Set in Lecce in the 1990s, she plays Lucia, the right hand woman of the boss of a criminal organisation trading in drugs and weapons.

Ignazio (Fabrizio Gifuni), a friend from childhood, has followed a more straight and narrow path to become one of the top lawyers fighting the organised crime and vainly seeking to put a legal lid on the gang wars.

Their lives run in parallel and then converge in dramatic fashion.

Gifuni is a suave counterbalance  with divided loyalties. Aside from him, there’s not much sign of the ‘gentlemen’ of the movie title which I imagine is meant to be ironic.

This is a conventional thriller with an unconventional protagonist. Finocchiaro is very convincing as the tough yet vulnerable heroine yet while the body count is high we never see her actually killing anyone; a kneecapping is her only real act of violence. It is stretching the bounds of credibility to imagine she could command such power in the male dominated underworld without getting her hands a bit bloodier.

Nevertheless, the main objective of the movie is achieved in that it shows that often, as Rudyard Kipling once wrote, the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

In a genre where it is usually men who call all the shots, it’s good to see a challenge to the stereotypical gender roles, something that is particularly rare in Italian movies.