CAPSULE: Ben E. Solenberger writes and directs this story of a small town contractor who little by little became a racketeer. On the day that Bill Cacchiotti is leaving both his legal and illegal business, he thinks back about how he came to be a criminal and what it did to him and his family. The production values are amateurish and too many of the minor actors cannot deliver lines, but the story is involving and probably will not disappoint fans of THE SOPRANOS. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
THE LIFE I LIVED has the feel of a rough draft of a better film yet to come. With better photography and a little more atmosphere this could have been a film that would attract attention. I think that in a few years writer/director Ben E. Solenberger may have more talent and will be able to do this story in a more accomplished form. Solenberger filmed his screenplay with little art beyond the art of storytelling. But even as it stands, THE LIVE I LIVED is not a bad crime film.
Bill Cacchiotti (played by Richard Bennett) is nominally a small town electrical supplies dealer and the head of a tiny local crime syndicate. On the day he is retiring he thinks back on his life. It is not such a wonderful life. He can be pretty nasty by nature and sometimes he breaks the law in small ways, but some of his poker-playing buddies convince him that it is more fun to break it big.
As the story progresses he thinks about innocent incidents, like a stranger in a cowboy hat introducing him to what would be his favorite Scotch. But his memories increasingly involve breaking the law to get what he wants. Even before he realizes it he has become a small mob boss involved in killings. The more he retreats from legitimacy into more profitable crime the deeper he gets into alcohol and the more his family relationships suffer. Killing becomes easier for him and dealing with people becomes harder. Bill even has his own personal burial grounds for enemies he has shot. Though he has no connection with the Mafia, he is in every other way a sort of a small town version of Tony Soprano. He even shares Tony Soprano's ample build and his anguish. Bill is certainly not proud of what he has become and even less of what it did to his wife and his son.
Solenberger's off-beat dialog falls a little short of the PULP FICTION standard, but it has its moments. At least by look the actors are all believable. In fact the cast may look more realistic than the cast in the Godfather movies. But once you get past the two or three main actors, the acting talent becomes very spotty. Some line readings sound like they are taken from a first run-through on the script. Set dressing is generally a bare minimum.
It is hard for me to watch this film without picturing the same story done with a better production values and a more polished visual style. In the extras of the DVD Solenberg looks to be little more than of college age. My advice to is to hold on to his script and remake this film with a better budget, a better look, and some more uniform acting talent. I rate this film a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
There is no IMDB entry; information on the film is at http://www.myspace.com/thelifeilived
THE LIFE I LIVED was released directly to DVD on May 27, 2008.
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2008 Mark R. Leeper