The Mongrel

There's good gritty, and then there's the kind of rub-your-face-in-it, scene-chewing gritty of Alessandro Gassman's helming debut, "The Mongrel."

With:
With: Alessandro Gassman, Giovanni Anzaldo, Manrico Gammarota, Sergio Meogrossi, Matteo Taranto, Madalina Ghenea, Michele Placido. (Italian, Romanian dialogue)

There’s good gritty, and then there’s the kind of rub-your-face-in-it, scene-chewing gritty of Alessandro Gassman’s helming debut, “The Mongrel.” Adapted from the play “Cuba and His Teddy Bear,” which starred Robert De Niro on Broadway, the pic effortlessly transplants the action to the outskirts of Rome, with Gassman a half-Romanian, half-gypsy drug addict hoping to give his son a better life. But there’s an emotional explosion in every scene, and the largely black-and-white, heightened-contrast lensing further overdramatizes the cliche-ridden story. A special jury nod in Rome for first or second work could draw fest programmers’ attention.

A screaming woman at the start hurling threats at chainsaw-wielding Roman (Gassman) is a sign of things to come: Modulation is not the pic’s strong suit. Roman is overprotective of son Nicu (Giovanni Anzaldo), though he hasn’t saved the boy from living in a dump or shielded him from drug deals. Sleazy lawyer Silvestri (Michele Placido) offers to help Nicu, but the kid falls under the influence of charismatic shyster Talebano (Sergio Meogrossi) and winds up endangering his father’s life. Gassman’s overblown perf is all mile-a-minute artifice, and the monochrome cinematography feels self-importantly lurid.

The Mongrel

Italy

Production: A Cucchini SRL, Rai Cinema, DAP Italy production, in collaboration with Moviemax Media Group, Sky. (International sales: Moviemax Media, Rome.) Produced by Cristiano Cucchini, Massimiliano di Lodovico. Directed by Alessandro Gassman. Screenplay, Gassman, Vittorio Moroni, based on the play "Cuba and His Teddy Bear" by Reinaldo Povod.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, widescreen), Federico Schlatter; editor, Marco Spoletini; music, Pivio, Aldo de Scalzi, Francesco Renga; production designer, Sonia Peng, Elio Maiello; costume designer, Mariano Tufano; sound, Marco Grillo; assistant director, Tommaso Pagliai; casting, Franco Alberto Cucchini. Reviewed at Rome Film Festival (Prospettive Italia, competing), Nov. 17, 2012. Running time: 106 MIN.

With: With: Alessandro Gassman, Giovanni Anzaldo, Manrico Gammarota, Sergio Meogrossi, Matteo Taranto, Madalina Ghenea, Michele Placido. (Italian, Romanian dialogue)

More Film

  • 'Get Out,' 'Dunkirk' Back In Theaters

    'Get Out,' 'Dunkirk' to Return to Movie Theaters Following Oscar Nominations

    There’s good gritty, and then there’s the kind of rub-your-face-in-it, scene-chewing gritty of Alessandro Gassman’s helming debut, “The Mongrel.” Adapted from the play “Cuba and His Teddy Bear,” which starred Robert De Niro on Broadway, the pic effortlessly transplants the action to the outskirts of Rome, with Gassman a half-Romanian, half-gypsy drug addict hoping to […]

  • Sundance Film Festival Placeholder

    A&E, Sundance Institute Partner on Documentary Film Grants (EXCLUSIVE)

    There’s good gritty, and then there’s the kind of rub-your-face-in-it, scene-chewing gritty of Alessandro Gassman’s helming debut, “The Mongrel.” Adapted from the play “Cuba and His Teddy Bear,” which starred Robert De Niro on Broadway, the pic effortlessly transplants the action to the outskirts of Rome, with Gassman a half-Romanian, half-gypsy drug addict hoping to […]

  • Anne Hathaway Live Fast Die Hot

    Anne Hathaway's 'Barbie' Moved Back Two Years to 2020

    There’s good gritty, and then there’s the kind of rub-your-face-in-it, scene-chewing gritty of Alessandro Gassman’s helming debut, “The Mongrel.” Adapted from the play “Cuba and His Teddy Bear,” which starred Robert De Niro on Broadway, the pic effortlessly transplants the action to the outskirts of Rome, with Gassman a half-Romanian, half-gypsy drug addict hoping to […]

  • Who is Sufjan Stevens? Oscars Introduce

    Who Is Oscar Best Song Nominee Sufjan Stevens, Beloved by Indie-Rock Fans and Music Supervisors?

    There’s good gritty, and then there’s the kind of rub-your-face-in-it, scene-chewing gritty of Alessandro Gassman’s helming debut, “The Mongrel.” Adapted from the play “Cuba and His Teddy Bear,” which starred Robert De Niro on Broadway, the pic effortlessly transplants the action to the outskirts of Rome, with Gassman a half-Romanian, half-gypsy drug addict hoping to […]

  • Bellucci, Belmondo Announced As Lumière Award

    Monica Bellucci, Jean-Paul Belmondo Announced as Guests of Honor at France's Lumière Awards

    There’s good gritty, and then there’s the kind of rub-your-face-in-it, scene-chewing gritty of Alessandro Gassman’s helming debut, “The Mongrel.” Adapted from the play “Cuba and His Teddy Bear,” which starred Robert De Niro on Broadway, the pic effortlessly transplants the action to the outskirts of Rome, with Gassman a half-Romanian, half-gypsy drug addict hoping to […]

  • 'Death of Stalin' Banned in Russia

    Russia Bans Dark Comedy 'The Death of Stalin'

    There’s good gritty, and then there’s the kind of rub-your-face-in-it, scene-chewing gritty of Alessandro Gassman’s helming debut, “The Mongrel.” Adapted from the play “Cuba and His Teddy Bear,” which starred Robert De Niro on Broadway, the pic effortlessly transplants the action to the outskirts of Rome, with Gassman a half-Romanian, half-gypsy drug addict hoping to […]

  • BAFTA L.A. and N.Y. Elect New

    BAFTA L.A., N.Y. Announce New Chair, Board Members

    There’s good gritty, and then there’s the kind of rub-your-face-in-it, scene-chewing gritty of Alessandro Gassman’s helming debut, “The Mongrel.” Adapted from the play “Cuba and His Teddy Bear,” which starred Robert De Niro on Broadway, the pic effortlessly transplants the action to the outskirts of Rome, with Gassman a half-Romanian, half-gypsy drug addict hoping to […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content