Perhaps the only place in the world with a higher concentration of mafiosos than Southern Italy is New York City. In the early 1990s, warring crime families were preoccupied with power, glory and, above all, gold jewelry. Director Raymond De Felitta, no stranger to stories centering around New York-Italians, sheds light on a latter day Bonnie and Clyde named Tommy and Rosemarie Uva, two small-time crooks from Ozone Park, Queens (though in the movie, they're from the Bronx and Queens, respectively) who unexpectedly find a way to rob and take down the mob.
Stylized in a way that requires far more attractive people to play the Uvas, Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda embody the roles of the passionate couple to an artfully artless level of perfection. After spending eighteen months in prison for robbing a flower shop, Tommy gets out to find that Rosemarie has stopped doing drugs and gotten "a real job" at a collection agency. Somewhat inspired by her newfound nobility, Tommy tries to emulate her by also getting a job at the same place. His attention is drawn away from the boredom and soullessness of asking people to pay up by the pomp and circumstance of the John Gotti trial.
Fascinated and repelled by the mafia because they killed his father after he couldn't pay them back for a loan, Tommy is drawn to the trial, where he hears Sammy the Bull's testimony against Gotti. Although the trial is open to the public, it seems as though Tommy is the only outsider interested enough to show up. His interest is further piqued when Sammy the Bull not only gives the addresses of several mafia social clubs, but also mentions that none of the "wiseguys" there are allowed to bring guns. An idea quickly brews in Tommy's head, prompting him to lure Rosie back into another brief flirtation with a life of crime.
Tommy's get rich quick scheme? Knock off the unsuspecting mafia members in the social clubs throughout New York. He promises Rosie that once they get enough money to get ahead, they'll stop and go back to living on the level. But, of course, the temptation of the cash proves too great to stop. As the two continue to gain notoriety not only among the crime families of NYC, including the boss, Big Al (played somewhat unconvincingly by Andy Garcia), the media and FBI begin to take notice as well. One reporter in particular, Jerry Cardozo (Ray Romano), highlights their story as one of human interest, and even goes so far as to get involved in promoting their well-being by purchasing them plane tickets to Mexico so they can escape the inevitable hit that's going to be taken out on them.
As his first major script, screenwriter Jonathan Fernandez does a precise job of setting the backdrop for a time in New York that people have a tendency to forget about (P.S. "Groove is in the Heart by Deee-Lite" is the perfect choice for establishing the tone for said time at the beginning of the film), as they're often too busy thinking about the 1980s or the years leading up to 9/11. But the inception of the 90s holds a very specific sort of untapped allure. New York was experiencing so many palpable changes and transitions (David Dinkins being one of the main ones). And this is a large part of what makes Rob the Mob so endearing: Its specificity...and yeah, the tragic love story element.