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Mac (May 10/04)

Mac stars John Turturro as Niccolo "Mac" Vitelli, the eldest of three brothers and a well-meaning construction worker. It quickly becomes apparent that Mac's based his entire work ethic on the example set by his deceased father (his favorite saying was, "there are two ways to do something: my way and the right way"), which doesn't exactly endear Mac to his boss. After coming into a substantial amount of money, though, Mac and his siblings - Bruno (Carl Capotorto) and Vico (Michael Badalucco) - decide to start their own business. Meanwhile, Mac begins a relationship with a local woman named Alice (Katherine Borowitz) and everything is wonderful - for a while.

As virtually every other review of Mac has noted, the film is an intensely personal film for Turturro - who wrote and directed - and even closes with the sound of the actor's real-life father attempting to leave him an answering machine message. The movie is set in the 1950s, and Turturro does a fantastic job of establishing this blue-collar world; the camaraderie between construction workers and particularly the bond shared by the Vitelli brothers feels genuine.

Then again, when you've got a cast that's this effective, it's not all that surprising that the relationships come off so effectively. Turturro, in particular, gives one of his best performances as this character that's not always entirely likable. Mac can be quite the taskmaster at times, and it's certainly a testament to Turturro's talent that we're consistently rooting for the guy - even when he's alienating his own brothers. The supporting cast is fine, particularly Badalucco and Capotorto, but this is really Turturro's show.

Though there's a lot to admire about Mac, the film never becomes quite as engrossing as Turturro clearly wants it to be - primarily due to an overlong running time and at least one entirely useless subplot. In terms of the latter, Turturro (along with co-screenwriter Brandon Cole) has inexplicably included a character named Oona (Ellen Barkin) - a bohemian artist that both Bruno and Vico are interested in. The quirkiness of Oona doesn't at all jibe with the sort of gritty realism that Turturro has otherwise imbued the film with, and the story comes to a dead halt everytime she appears.

Mac marked Turturro's directorial debut, and there's no denying that it's an impressive first feature. It's the relationship between the three brothers that makes the movie worth a look, even through some of the more superfluous moments.

out of

About the DVD: Columbia TriStar presents Mac with a newly remastered letterboxed transfer, along with three bonus trailers (Anger Management, Big Night, and Boyz N the Hood).