‘The Wannabe’ searches for identity in mobster world
NEW YORK – In the waning days of the New York Mafia in the 1990s, a young man ill-suited for a life of crime decides he wants to be a gangster, a real-life quest that inspired the film “The Wannabe.”
Shot at 30 New York locations on a tight schedule, the film that premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival on Friday offers a different take on the gangster film.
It blends fact with fiction and follows a couple who robbed New York Mafia social clubs, where mobsters played cards and drank. The film, executive produced by Martin Scorsese, also depicts a world when crime bosses were neighborhood kings and young men aspired to be a part of their world to gain the social status.
“I was intrigued about the idea of this person who just desperately wants to be something he is not,” said writer/director Nick Sandow, about his second film behind the camera.
“It’s from the perspective of someone who is outside it (the Mafia) and desperately wants to be inside.”
Patricia Arquette, an Oscar winner for her role in “Boyhood,” and Vincent Piazza, who plays the young mobster Lucky Luciano in the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” are the modern-day version of Bonnie and Clyde.
Piazza plays Thomas Greco, a man obsessed with the Mafia. He religiously attends the 1992 murder trial of crime boss John Gotti hoping to gain entry into the organization, even attempting to fix the trial, but is turned away.
Arquette, as his older, savvy lover and wife Rose, knows the world he hopes to join but faces her own problems with drugs and finding her place in the world. Together they embark on a crazy, dangerous, drug-fueled adventure robbing the Mafia.
“I felt these two characters were the perfect vehicle to take us on that journey in search of identity, of being in love with the ideas of each other, and being in love with the idea of who each person would want to be,” said Piazza.
Sandow, who plays Joe Caputo in the HBO series “Orange is the New Black,” said he identified with Greco and where he came from.
“The film depicts the early 1990s. The Gotti trial was the last straw in the coffin,” he said. “It was the end of an era and he was trying to hold on to this idea of something that really wasn’t there anymore.” – REUTERS