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In this stranger-than-fiction documentary, a bit player in mob movies turns con artist and bedazzles a small town in upstate New York with Hollywood dreams.


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A film by Martha Shane

2019 | Documentary | 84 mins | USA

Richard Castellano, a character actor best-known for a small role in Analyze This, parlays his reputation playing Italian-American heavies into an extravagant long con at the expense of the gullible citizens of a New York hamlet 100 miles northwest of Manhattan. The excitable Castellano shows up, all fast talk and glad hands, and spellbinds the town with talk of both a movie (a crime saga called Four Deadly Reasons) to be filmed there, and a film festival that will make Narrowsburg, Pop. 431., the “Sundance of the East Coast.” His French-accented wife, Jocelyne, joins Castellano in an increasingly shady and desperate shell game that exploits the kind of show-biz fantasies that seem encoded into American DNA. Shane’s stranger-than-fiction chronicle of the scam concerns itself as much with its small-town dreamers as their deceivers, making what could be yet another oddball true-crime narrative into a story about how images, and the desires they generate, can intoxicate people and make them do crazy things. And in the end, who knows what can happen?