Slapdash caper meets real life tragedy in Rob the Mob, the new film by Raymond De Felitta. It documents the real life story of Tommy and Rosie Uva, a down and out criminal couple who attempt to rebuild their life following a brief stint in prison. Inevitably, Tommy soon becomes restless with his new lifestyle and begins to target mafia social clubs in a series of daytime robberies. Likened to a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, Tommy and Rosie soon come to realize the gravity of their situation once they become entangled in a high-threat game of cat and mouse.
Grammy-nominated composer, arranger and producer Stephen Endelman scores the film, adding to his already impressive back catalogue. His style is as mercurial as the directors for whom he has worked, and in Rob the Mob, the composer mixes angular, percussive pieces with lush orchestral sounds.
The score is a mixed bag; while a number of the later pieces are poignant and gentle, the sound initially mimics that of the family drama, neither wholly comedic nor stony-faced. “I Can Talk to my Boss,” for example, teams lazy strings with a sequential bass line, doing little to reflect the offbeat chaos occurring on-screen. Moving through the score, however, the music soon becomes erratically percussive; in “Flower Shop Robbery,” Endelman uses tuned instruments as rhythmical devices in order to mimic the jeopardy in which the couple find themselves. Although the pulsating electronic sound that underscores the piece is interesting, the music fails to build any true momentum. As soon as the driving rhythm has started, it ends, warping into an extended electronic groan.
These pieces, however, seem to be the only of their kind within the soundtrack. After experimenting with a number of different styles, Endelman settles for something in the middle, a sound that’s as nondescript as it is piano-heavy. Although a number of these tracks are truly beautiful—“Tommy Goes to Gotti Trial,” for example—they feel disparate from the film, representing the narrative as poignant and sensitive, rather than chaotic and comedic.
The original song “Love and the Gun” does not fare much better. Composed by Endelman and with lyrics by De Felitta, the track attempts to emulate the ’60s Italian pop track, combining a guitar-based band with a small string orchestra. Despite Tamela D’Amico’s vocals, the music is largely unaffecting. The tone of the piece peaks within the first verse, and after this point, rarely moves beyond sequential string runs and big guitar chords.
Overall, Endelman’s creation is very much at odds with the film narrative. While it attempts to draw out the tragedy at the heart of the narrative, many of the pieces end up sounding the same, and some do not stand up as music in their own right. Despite the continuity in the latter part of the score, much of the earlier material oscillates between angular erraticism and unassuming quietude. Were the composer to have remained within a particular musical tone, perhaps this score would have sounded less disparate and could have taken the film to a different emotional plane. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and Endelman’s score merely hangs somewhere in the background.
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