Gangster films have always brought in decent returns, and upcoming indie movie The Birthday Cake is probably going to continue the trend. The first trailer for the movie dropped recently, and anyone who is still missing The Sopranos will probably see a few familiar faces among the star cast.
The movie is the directorial debut of Jimmy Giannopoulos and stars Shiloh Fernandez in the lead role of Gio, who is give the seemingly easy task of going to a memorial celebration marking the 10th anniversary of the death of his father in mysterious circumstances and taking with him the titular birthday cake.
The story takes place over a single night, and appears to take many of its cues from Martin Scorsese, ending up as a mash-up of Goodfellas meets After Hours. The plot sees Gio witnessing a murder on his way to the party, which sees him forced to come to terms with his father's death and the truth behind what really happened to him. While the premise of the movie is enough to keep most people intrigued, what is more impressive still is the cast list headed up by the massively underrated Fernandez.
Val Kilmer appears as Gio's uncle, the mafia boss who arranges the party, and Ewan McGregor stars as priest Father Kelly, while other stars include Penn Badgley, Aldis Hodge and Ashley Benson, as well as former Sopranos actors Lorraine Bracco and Vincent Pastore.
There has always been a place for the Mafia in movies and on TV, going right back to the James Cagney movies of the 30s and hitting a peak in the 70s with The Godfather and its later sequels. The 80s saw Scorsese start making some memorable gangster movies, leading into his 1990 offering of Goodfellas. The turn of the century saw the Mafia brought to a whole new audience with The Sopranos becoming a huge hit for HBO.
Following this , the genre seemed to fall a little flat, struggling to come out of the Sopranos' shadow until the last few years, which saw many releases that stripped away the glamor that once came as part of the package with movies like Scarface. Scorsese's The Irishman, which brought together the gangster Holy Trinity of Robert DeNero, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, was a huge smash for Netflix, while a number of other notable ventures into the dark world of crime have been The Drop and Drive. From the trailer, it looks like The Birthday Cake is following this dark and gritty road of understated and mostly underrated crime dramas.
With twists and turns expected in numbers, the trailer gives us a sense that Gio is about to be the caught up in the attentions of many of the story's characters, who all appear to have some kind of hidden motive and underhanded reason being involved with the family. Jimmy Giannopoulos has assembled a brilliant cast, with numerous references and homages to the mafia films and series of the past, and a realism in its cinematography that draws you in, The Birthday Cake could well prove to be one of the underdog hits of the year when it arrives in cinemas and on-demand on 18th June.