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FRESH KILLS (2024)
Fresh Kills poster

CAST
EMILY BADER
ODESSA A’ZION
NICHOLAS CIRILLO
AVA DEMARY
NICOLE EHINGER
JENNIFER ESPOSITO
TAYLOR MADELINE HAND
DAVID IACONO
ANASTASIA VERONICA LEE
DOMEICK LOMBARDOZZI
STELLO SAVANTE
ANNABELLA SCIORRA

DIRECTED BY
JENNIFER ESPOSITO

WRITTEN BY
JENNIFER ESPOSITO

PRODUCED BY
CHRISTINE CROKOS
JENNIFER ESPOSITO
LESLIE ANN OWEN
SAMANTHA SPRECHER

CINEMATOGRAPHY BY
BEN HARDWICKE

EDITED BY
TODD SANDLER

MUSIC BY
THEODOSIA ROUSSOS

GENRE
CRIME
DRAMA

RATED
AUS:NA
UK:NA
USA:NA

RUNTIME
2h

 

 

 

 


Fresh Kills image
Image Credit © Quiver Distribution

An enthralling directorial debut from Jennifer Esposito, Fresh Kills delivers a fresh take on the mob movie with the female point-of-view the focus in a mafia daughters coming-of-age in the mean streets of Staten Island circa 1990s.

“Is dad an honest man?” This is the question asked by late-teen Rose (Emily Bader) to her wild-child sister Connie (Odessa A’zion). The response is blunt, direct, and aggressive; a reminder and warning to “never go against the family” no matter what.

Yet breakaway from the mob-life and its old-world conventions does Rose strive to do throughout Fresh Kills. Beginning in 1987, Rose is first played by Anastasia Veronica Lee as a withdrawn 12-year-old getting used to her new Staten Island suburb surroundings, in which her mobster father Joe (Domenick Lombardozzi) has set up shop and her mother Gloria (Jennifer Esposito) reminisces about her glory days as a young beauty.  

Fast forward to the years 1993 and 1997 and Rose is portrayed by Emily Bader as a late teen and young woman (respectively). Bader delivers an electrifying performance in her portrayal of a free-spirit yearning to explore a world beyond the caged confines of family loyalty and patriarchal traditions, the physical manifestations of Rose’s inner-turmoil powerfully raw displays of Bader’s thespian prowess that evokes aching sympathy.

Excellent too is Odessa A’zion who proves that the role of violent wildcard sociopath (usually portrayed in crime movies by the likes of Joe Pesci) is not only the domain of men, with the Hellraiser star delivering an incredibly intimidating turn that is also addictively spunky. Both Esposito and Annabella Sciorra, meanwhile, provide strong support in matriarchal roles, Sciorra delivering an especially strong monologue near the films’ conclusion.

Director Jennifer Esposito – who also wrote and produced Fresh Kills – brings to the film her own experiences growing up in 1980s Staten Island where the mob would be found on every corner, resulting is an authenticity to the period setting of Fresh Kills that is both startling and absorbing. It can be felt in the outfits, the music, the natural use of language, and the stuck-in-time architecture that the shot in Staten Island Fresh Kills has in spades.

This blend of semi-biographical drama and crime movie filmmaking evokes gangster classics Mean Streets and A Bronx Tale. Yet while Mean Streets had its protagonist seek salvation in the Church and A Bronx Tale battling loyalties between competing father figures, Fresh Kills is all about a young woman’s need for expression and choice within an environment where conformity is the only option.

It is a startling twist on the mob movie that Esposito delivers with confidence and power.


****

 

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Created and Edited by Matthew Pejkovic / Contact: mattsm@mattsmoviereviews.net
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