Pif, Pierfrancesco Diliberto’s first film La Mafia Uccide Solo D’Estate (The Mafia Only Kills In The Summer) taught us about the Sicilian mafia just before the famous Maxi Trial, when Sicilian prosecutors indicted 475 mafiosi for crimes relating to Mafia activities. His newest film, In Guerra Per Amore, Pif offers a prequel of sorts, an explanation of how the mafia was able a stronghold over the Italian Island in the first place.
Pif, a director, writer and Italian TV stars as Arturo, a charming rom-com with a historical fiction story. It’s 1943 and as World War II rages in Europe, Palermo native Arturo is in New York City working as a waiter. His sweetheart Flora (Miriam Leone) has been promised to the son of an important New York Mafia boss, and to stop the wedding, he joins the army and goes to Sicily in search of Flora’s father in hopes to ask for her hand in marriage.
Using for a second time the device made famous by the movie Forrest Gump, Pif puts Arturo in situations that place him into, and at the same time illustrate important events of the time. For those of us that are (shamefully) unfamiliar with the history, it’s an eye-opener; in liberating Sicily from the Mussolini and the Nazis, Americans handed it over to the mafia, wrapped with a red bow and a “Thank you for your service”.
For those who complain that In Guerra Per Amore can not be compared to films with similar themes that were brought to us by Neorealist masters, that’s because it shouldn’t be. It’s true, Pif doesn’t give us the same horrifyingly bleak accuracy that classic Italian film directors did, but Pif uses humor and an engaging love story to deliver the dismal true stories, making them more personal and accessible.
Pif shows us how the Americans landing in Sicily and liberating them eventually led to the bloody ’70s and ’80s , the Second Mafia War resulting in the killing spree that led to the Maxi Trial. I was brought to tears at the end of La Mafia Uccide Solo D’Estate as Pif paid his painful tribute to Italians who gave their lives to bring organized crime to justice, and the same was true for In Guerra Per Amore, as I discovered the extent to which poverty stricken peasants had been subjugated by so many and for so long.
On a more personal note, I have to mention that in the film, Arturo and Flora take what amounts to the “first” selfie and I wanted to share my own selfie with Pif, and a photo bomb by Pif in a selfie with director Daniele Luchetti!