Dress Code delivers a unique take on the gangster genre in this mafioso crime thriller

by Ed Blackadder

Dress Code¬†is an independent crime thriller that brings a fresh and captivating take on the world of organized crime as it follows the story of Bobby Russo as a teenager (Nicholas Giordano), and then as an adult (Gerard Garilli). Dress Code is director Joseph Pupello’s freshman effort, as he guides the movie carefully along to its inevitable¬†conclusion.

While the portrayal of organized crime and the gangsters within are not particularly original, the story itself is compelling and builds an unexpected sense of tension. The characters tend to play on New Jersey-mafia-stereotypes, and the script reveals many tropes common to such movies, yet there is still a unique originality to the story and character choices that drive Bobby in Dress Code.

As the story builds, and as the viewer becomes more invested in the journey of Bobby, we are compelled by a character trying to find his own way in the world of crime which he was born into, and the expectations put on him by his father, as Bobby grows into adulthood.

As a youth, we see Bobby in direct conflict with his overbearing and abusive father, who is grooming him to take over the family business. However, Bobby is intent on finding happiness his own way and he has a secret life outside of organized crime. Bobby finds unexpected support from his mother and his uncle, as they try to help Bobby discover his own path.

To go into too much detail about Bobby’s secret would be to deliver a major plot spoiler and although this element is revealed fairly early in the movie, it is best to leave the viewer to experience this on their own.

Even though these characters often play to the Italian mafioso stereotype, each member of the cast delivers strong and realistic feeling performances. The story is told with intercutting timelines — Bobby as a teenager and Bobby as an adult. Both actors are understated while compelling in their portrayals of a young man struggling to balance his “work” responsibilities while expressing his desire to be his authentic self, bringing depth and emotion to the character.

The supporting cast is equally impressive, with each actor delivering nuanced and engaging performances. Their chemistry and interaction bring the story to life, adding layers of complexity and depth to the narrative.

The screenplay is well-written, with a strong focus on character development and dialogue. The film’s pacing is deliberate and measured, allowing the audience to become fully immersed in the world of Dress Code.

Ed’s Grade: B+