Tribeca Film Festival Movie Review: 'The Wannabe' a Thrilling Piece Led by Vincent Piazza, Patricia Arquette
The mob movie has become one of the most iconic genres in film history and so many TV shows and films have tried to copy classics such as "Scarface," "Goodfellas" and "The Godfather."
Nick Sandow's second feature "The Wannabe" is a wonderful addition to this genre as it subverts everything about it and brings fresh look at the mob world through great performances by its lead cast.
The film tells the story of Thomas (Vincent Piazza), a young man obsessed with mob culture, and desperate to fit in, who sets out to fix the 1992 trial of John Gotti. Together with his girlfriend Rose (Patricia Arquette), he believes that if the plan is executed, it will allow him into the inner circle with mob bosses.
Sandow brings the story to life with a compelling eye. His camera is always handheld, following the characters and giving the film an overall gritty look. With the use of this technique he allows the drug induced scenes to give a very claustrophobic look as well as dizzying effect. It also allows the viewer to forget what is real and what is in Thomas' imagination.
The technique also gives the film a surreal feel. For example, at the beginning, Thomas is presented with a white suit, with sunglasses and in a very elegant fashion. Sandow makes sure to shoot the sequence in a very dreamlike fashion creating the idea that Thomas is a big mob honcho. However, the spell is broken once Thomas is mistreated by one of the mob's security.
The film also subverts some of the things most people glamorize about mobsters. When Thomas decides to rob a casino, audiences expect to see men all dressed up in the finest suits. However, what is seen are old men in regular attire playing cards. The sequence is not only witty but also showcases Thomas' disappointment over the world he is obsessed with.
Also interesting is another sequence when Thomas enters the secret bar that he has not been allowed in throughout the film. It is not only surprising but also one of the most tense sequences in the whole film.
Vincent Piazza brings swagger to the role of Thomas. At the beginning Piazza is presented with a carefree spirit. He believes he is on top of the world and has a plan that will get out crime honcho out of jail. However, when he is disappointed and played Piazza's portrayal changes. Thomas tries to live out the fantasy of the mob world robbing casinos. Piazza transforms and becomes a volatile presence and unpredictable. He ultimately brings a tragic to this character who never really succeeds at anything he proposes himself to do.
Patricia Arquette gives a winning performance as Rose. Like Piazza's Thomas, Arquette's Rose poses a very confident character at the beginning. However, as the character develops, it is evident that this is a destroyed woman trying to recover from prison and drugs. Arquette showcases this especially once her character begins using drugs. Through her eyes, Arquette expresses the confusion Rose has over her actions as well as her relationship with Thomas.
Michael Imperioli gives a solid performance and adds some of the tensest moments to the film. David Zayas and Daniel Sauli also provide great work.
However, this is Piazza and Arquette's film and they bring together a dynamic onscreen couple. All in all "The Wannabe" showcases the fantasies of life and the tragedies that can occur when one seeks to live in a fantasy world.