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September 4 - 11, 1997

[Boston Film Festival]

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The North End

Boston's own Little Italy, the North End, gets a starring role in this Godfather-flavored drama. Mac McCain (Mark Hartman) and Freddie Fabucci (Matthew Del Negro) are recent Harvard grads who take up residence in the claustrophobic brick-faced streets. Mac is a beefy investment banker, a former football star with an explosive temper. Freddie, the more down-to-earth personality, is an aspiring filmmaker who's crafting a documentary for PBS/WGBH about the changing face of the North End, from traditional Italian neighborhood to yuppie village.

As the pair swing through cafés and trattorias, Mac falls for Danielle (Lina Sivio), a saucy waitress with a history of domestic violence in her family. She moves in with Mac but is repelled by his need for physical domination, so she turns to Freddie for compassion and support. The film does an effective job of escalating and maintaining the tension in the love triangle; at times, however, it feels jerky and amateurish. Hartman and Del Negro do call to mind a young Peter Berg and Andy Garcia. But the best part of The North End is Frank Vincent as a local who makes a living as a Hollywood character actor playing Mafioso types. Now that's art imitating life. Screens at the Copley Place Thursday at 7:15 and 9:40 p.m., Friday at 10:15 a.m. and 12:15 and 2:15 p.m., and next Friday (September 12) at 10 a.m. and 12:10, 2:05, and 4 p.m. Director Frank Ciota, writer Joseph Ciota, and star Frank Vincent will appear before Thursday's 7:15 p.m. showing.

-- Tom Meek

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