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Film / Malavita

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— The film's Arc Word

Malavita (titled The Family for international release) is a 2013 Franco-American film directed by Luc Besson, starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dianna Agron.

The Manzoni family, a notorious Mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France, under the witness protection program. Just like all the other attempted relocations, fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard. But the Mafia soon comes calling, intending to finish what they started.


Malavita provides examples of:

  • Actor IS the Title Character: "Robert De Niro is one Killer Dad", "Michelle Pfeiffer is one Bad Mother", "Dianna Agron is the Mobgirl Next Door", and "John D'Leo is the Young Gun".
  • Alliterative Name: Maggie Manzoni. After the family assumes the Blake surname as an alias, Belle fills this trope. Although, Maggie changed her given name like her husband, so she's really Livia Manzoni or Maggie Blake.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The film ends with the Manzonis forced to relocate to another town while Fred remarks that he now has to rewrite his memoirs.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Belle's confession to her math teacher.
  • Asshole Victim: See the second bullet on Disproportionate Retribution.
  • Attempted Rape:
    • One of the henchmen was going to do this to Maggie then kill her before Giovanni intervened.
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    • It's implied that the French boys taking Belle to the park intended this. The book has their intentions far more obvious and explicit.
  • Badass Family: Especially since they were formerly part of the Mafia.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Agent Stansfield, in a way. He's completely exasperated at having to relocate the Manzoni family all the time because they keep blowing their cover.
  • Black Comedy
  • Celebrity Paradox: Fred/Giovanni ends up giving his opinion on the film Goodfellas. The fact that he happens to look identical to one of the actors of the film is only briefly addressed.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Warren writes a small English wordplay quip that he heard from the old mob boss as a child for the student paper, which is then published and spread across the town, then taken to America by a father on a business trip, then tossed in the trash, then rescued from the dump truck, and used to wrap a bottle of wine delivered to the mob boss. He uses this to find the family in the climax.
  • Cop Killer: The Mafia hitmen murder all the cops as their first move in coming after the Manzonis, to stop anyone helping them.
  • Cute and Psycho: Belle is a cute blonde teenager. She's also scarily proficient with guns and beats the crap out of a sleazy boy with a tennis racquet. However, she does end up breaking down crying after barely escaping getting killed.
    Warren: You're a maniac.
    Belle: Thank you.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Belle beats the shit out of her attempted rapist using a tennis racquet.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Stan, the agent in charge of the Manzoni Family's protection. Considering he's played by Tommy Lee Jones, this is not surprising in the least.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Manzoni family's specialty.
    • Giovanni twice. First, he kills a man for giving him bad lobsters (justifying this by saying they could have poisoned his family). Later, unhappy with the state of the water supply in town, sets about to rectify the problem. He brutally beats up the plumber who tries to extort him and drags the CEO of the local chemical plant along behind his car when the man interrupts him. Giovanni finally settles the water issue by blowing up the turbines at the local chemical plant with dynamite.
    • Maggie asks for peanut butter at the local supermarket. After informing her that there is none and brushing her off, the shopkeeper goes on to gossip in French with a few other patrons about how stupid, entitled, and obese all Americans are. She overhears them and the supermarket blows up shortly after she walks out.
    • The kids' behavior, whilst extreme, is seemingly justified in the case of Warren when he's kicking the shit out of the jocks who did the same to him just for being the new kid and maybe not enough in the case of Belle breaking a tennis racquet all over a kid and taking his friend's car because they were sleazily hitting on her and it's implied plotting her rape. Of course, they enjoy punishing people a little too extremely at other times.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Ironically, the very same mobster who tried to have the dog shot then ends up attacked by the dog when he falls next to him.
  • Double Entendre: When Rocco tells Belle "you're not a little girl any more" it's not only just that he hasn't seem her since she was 11 or 12, but also inferring (Besson loving these jokes) the fact that she just lost her virginity.
  • Dressing to Die: Belle takes a white dress, implied to be her mother's wedding dress, and her mother's pearls when she goes to kill herself. She doesn't end up jumping, but the intent is there, as she is heartbroken after the man she gave her virginity to (and sex is Serious Business to her) says that it was nice but doesn't want to be with her over the phone after avoiding her. Her family about to be relocated and her realizing she's never going to have any sort of quiet life she wants is also a contributing factor.
  • Driven to Suicide: Averted with Belle. She was all ready to jump from the roof over her broken heart, until she saw the hitmen coming to take out her family.
  • Eagleland: Discussed and invoked. Many people were not fond of "the Blakes" due to them being American.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Especially when they look like Dianna Agron or Michelle Pfeiffer.
  • The Family That Slays Together
  • Family Title: Literally in some international releases.
  • Foreshadowing: Some of the family's attacks are shortly preceded by a line referring to it, usually by the character who suffers the fate, but spoken as a common English idiom; no guesses for what happens in these:
    "I think Miss America's going to knock them dead at the pool."
    "It might cost you an arm and a leg, or both arms and both legs."
    "It might drag on but we always find a solution in the end."
  • French Jerk: A few of the characters the titular family encounter throughout the film.
  • Girly Bruiser: Belle. Presumably Maggie as well.
  • Going Commando: Belle's seduction scene includes this.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The entire family is guilty of this, which is why they tend to relocate so often because they blow their cover.
  • Hereditary Hairstyle: In part of the Strong Family Resemblance, Giovanni and Maggie's hair colors respectively match that of their son and daughter.
  • Here We Go Again!: The family relocates once again at the end of the film.
  • High-School Hustler: Warren wastes no time bribing, stealing and blackmailing his way around school. However, this does land him a disciplinary hearing in front of the school board.
    Warren: I want to see my lawyer.
  • Hot for Teacher: Belle falls for the young, handsome math teacher.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Giovanni writes his memoirs throughout the movie.
  • Interscene Diegetic: Used when Belle is singing along and listening to music on a walkman, that then shifts to be playing on the radio at her parent's flashback garden party.
  • Just for Pun: "Son of a bitch", followed by the male dog whimpering.
  • Kick the Dog: The mobsters sent to kill the Manzoni family blow up the house, and find the family dog still alive. One of them tries to get another one to shoot it, since the boss did say "kill the whole family". Fortunately, Belle comes in just in time.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Belle. Warren is an inverted example.
  • The Mafia: The Manzonis were with a Mafia family. Giovanni/Frank turning state's evidence on his boss got him into the witness protection program and sent to France along with his family under new identities. However, while they aren't formally Mafiosi anymore, they're still in the same mindset throughout the film. The group they left also are hunting for all of them in revenge.
  • Meaningful Name: "Warren" means 'home', "Belle" is French for 'beautiful', "Livia" (Maggie) is the Empress of Italy.
  • Reality Has no Subtitles: An odd case. The family has been living in France for six years, and most of Warren's schooling will have been in French, so it is safe to assume that most of the time the characters will be speaking in French to the French people. Of course, all of the important dialogue (when it is with teachers, the mayor, and the priest, for example) is in English so that the audience can understand it. When the background French characters are saying things that do not contribute to the story, it remains in unsubtitled French. Of course, this brings us to the moments where the characters speaking French or English is of significant importance to the plot (the supermarket scene). So, the trope is averted for that scene, however in the rest of the film there is a lot of French without subtitles, very noticeable when there is the speech in English of what would likely be spoken in French (if the film world were realistic).
  • Renamed the Same: Mostly averted, but while the whole family changed their last name to "Blake" (from Manzoni), it may be that the kids didn't change their given names. In the film, Maggie accidentally calling her husband "Gio(vanni)" instead of "Fred" is discussed, and in the book the same is done in reverse for him calling her "Livia". It is also suggested in the book that Belle isn't actually the daughter's real name, and there's no word on Warren (who would have been very young, so perhaps didn't need to).
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The mobsters leave a path of carnage across France trying to find the Manzonis.
  • She's Got Legs: Belle in her little sundresses.
  • Shout-Out: This isn't the only Besson movie to focus on the Mafia with a law enforcement agent named "Stansfield" as one of the characters.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Belle and Warren are the spitting images of their parents, Maggie and Fred. Warren even has a mole just like his dad.
  • Their First Time: Belle seduces her teacher, and loses her virginity through him.
  • Title Drop: "Family" a lot, and when Fred is talking to the dog he calls it "Malavita".
  • Top Ten List: Fred invokes the trope while writing his memoirs (this Badass Creed is made funnier by what he remembers):
    Fred: I won't spare myself. I'll tell the story without trying to make myself look good. But in this chapter I'll do the opposite and demonstrate to you that if you take a closer look, I'm a good guy. I'll prove it to you in 10 points. A bit like one of Letterman's Late Show Top 10 Lists. So here we go...
    Number 10: I am always up front. Always.
    Number 9: I never look for a scapegoat.
    Number 8: If you give me a job, I'll always see it through.
    Number 7: I've never shown contempt for people who fear me.
    Number 6: I've never betrayed the guy who gave me my first gun.
    Number 5: I never wished any harm on anybody.
    Number 4: I lived outside the law, but only outlaws didn't judge me.
    Number 3: Anybody who doesn't contradict me can expect nothing but good things from me.
    Number 2: In my neighborhood when I was running it, there was never a single robbery on the street. People lived and slept peacefully.
    Number 1 of the top 10 reasons why I'm a good guy? I don't like to cause pain for no reason, because all my sadistic urges are satisfied when I cause pain for a good reason.
  • Virgin in a White Dress: Belle wears a floral white sundress in two crucial scenes that regard her virginal status - when she violently prevents the town's local douchbags from raping her, and in her love scene with the math teacher, where she loses her virginity.
  • Visual Pun:
    • There are lots of clever scene transitions, commonly for discretion, but using a sound bridge so that the first action of the cover-up scene heavily implies the ending of the one cut short.
    • The dog whines after Fred says "son of a bitch".
  • Wall Bang Her: This is how Belle and her teacher had sex after she seduced him (it's her first time too).
  • Witness Protection: Although it's made clear that the family is less than pleased with the constant moving around due to their old mob habits blowing their cover.
  • Witless Protection Program: In the third act of Malavita, the Mafia family that has been hunting down the Manzonis ever since Giovanni (the father) provided State's evidence manages to find out that the Manzonis are hidden in a small town in France by a collection of Contrived Coincidences involving Giovanni's son writing an article using a quip his father liked to use in his Mafia days for his school paper and a copy making it all the way to the United States and the hands of the Don.

Alternative Title(s): The Family