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French Novel Malavita now a U.S. movie: The Family

Posted by Brent on 11/2/2013

The 2013 Mafia farce film The Family is based on the internationally best-selling French language novel Malavita, written by Tonino Benacquista, an award-winning French author of crime fiction.

The Family: American Film Adaptation of the French Novel MalavitaStarring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones and Dianna Agron (of the television show Glee), the plot of The Family might best be described as the comedy and chaos that would ensue if The Sopranos were transplanted to the French countryside.

Both the French novel and the American film adaptation tell the story of what happens when Giovanni Manzoni, a ruthless mobster (played by De Niro), and his equally savage and unstable family are placed in witness protection in the quiet countryside of Normandy, France, after Manzoni snitches on his other “family” and has a multi-million dollar bounty placed on his head by the American Mafia.

While Americans are often conspicuous even in Paris, the brutal Manzoni’s really find it impossible to maintain a low profile in a sleepy French village. This hilarious, off-beat comedy parodies the Mafia and contrasts U.S. culture and French snobbery. 

While the film has received mediocre reviews, Malavita has been well received by critics:

“This action-comedy book is all good fun throughout. . . . There are some very funny moments.” —Newsday

“An entertaining summer read.” —Houston Chronicle

“Savagely funny and surprisingly touching.” —The Guardian (London)
“A queasily-comic, stylishly-executed romp.” —The Independent (London)
“Crime fiction that makes you chuckle is rare, and this is an exceptional example of the species.” —Judges’ citation, Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger Award (finalist)
“Hilarious . . . Snappy writing and brisk pacing add up to a comic crime novel Elmore Leonard fans would relish.” —Publishers Weekly
“A smart fish-out-of-water conceit . . . The story thrives on absurdities and coincidence, particularly in [one] virtuoso scene.” —Kirkus Reviews