As a desperate widow in MTC's new play, Tales from Red Vienna, Nina Arianda's Helena Altman is demure in period weeds, even as the gentlemen she services rip her black lace. In her new movie, Rob the Mob, opening this week, Arianda's Rosie is wily and saucy and naïve as befits a character in a modern "Bonnie & Clyde" story, about a real-life Queens couple deigning to hold up members of the "family" in their social clubs. Her boyfriend, Tommy, in the charming if rough person of Michael Pitt, has this brainstorm sitting in on the trial of John Gotti, that the Mafia, bosses and soldiers, wield no weapons as they play cards, and in the name of his father, he simply and nervously shows up, asks them for their watches and wallets, while she waits in the getaway car. Needless to say, this daring prank comes to no good end for the young lovers.
At the premiere last week, Michael Pitt said that he liked the script, but would not have committed to the movie had it not been for "the girl." Truly, Pitt and Arianda are the hottest screen couple since Beatty and Dunaway, if they had had sex. This is Nina Arianda's first starring role in a movie; a master of New York cadences, she is wonderful. Jonathan Fernandez's script gives her great material and Raymond de Felitta's deft direction, provides lots of room for her realistically sexy moves and mildly daffy but lovable persona. At the afterparty at Hotel Chantelle, Burt Young, Michael Rispoli and his family were all present chomping on truffle pizza and meatball sliders, befitting a movie that also features Andy Garcia as a don who appreciates good food. Nina Arianda was performing that night on stage in "Red Vienna." De Felitta said she sent her love to the cast.
In Tales from Red Vienna, Arianda has a hot scene with Michael Espers, in a cemetery! Unfortunately, while the play in scenery and costumes evokes the post World War I ethos, its language cranes into the present in a most unpleasant way including some sexual references best left unsaid. Kathleen Chalfant and Tina Benko, gorgeous as Tatiana in Julie Taymour's recent A Midsummer Night's Dream, do well with minimally drawn roles. David Grimm's writing is not up to the many onstage talents, especially that of Nina Arianda. See her in Rob the Mob.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.