Indie Film Review: Dress Code (2023)

Synopsis: Bobby Russo was born into a life of organized crime. A life of secrets and lies. As he gets older Bobby realizes that the most dangerous secrets of all are his own.



Beautiful and brilliant Dress Code written by Peter Panagos and directed by Joseph Pupello. follows Bobby Russo. Groomed from a young age to join the “family business” Only Bobby has a secret.

Gerard Garilli as Bobby / Dress Code

 In a flashback, we meet young Bobby (Nicholas Giordano), the son of a violent dad (Freddie Mass) and a verbally abused mother (Alex Di Trolio). Coming home to what seems to be a familiar situation of his parents arguing once again. Bobby finally frustrated, grabs his mother’s purse going into the bathroom. Instead of money, Bobby pulls out his mom’s lipstick soothed by its shape and smell he applies it. Caught by his dad who goes into a violent outburst Bobby is saved by his mother who is worried and wondering why her son is stealing her makeup and clothes. Taking him to a psychologist who offers a place to help “cure” Bobby of his affliction. Horrified at the thought they storm out, she promises she will be there for him always and gives him a secret bag with a lock on it filled with makeup and some of her clothes telling Bobby to be him but be discreet.

Maria Marinaro and Gerard Garilli /Dress Code

Transition to present-day adult Bobby( Gerard Garill) at his mother’s funeral. Bobby has a girlfriend now and they are expecting their first child. and Bobby has become a prominent member of the “Family business” thanks to his Uncle Rocco (Frank Osso) who has been more of a father figure to him in his life. When the head mobster dies and Rocco is promoted to head of the business Rocco gives Bobby control of an important location that ruffles feathers among the ranks especially with Allie Boy (played superbly by Edward John Scienski) and Bobby too. Is he cut out of this? When Bobby finally decides to embrace who he is by going to a transgender party we see Bobby at his happiest, and the music that plays is killer. It almost brings a tear to your eye. It also all comes crashing down on Bobby after.

Edward John Socienski/ Dress Code

Winner of Best Screenplay (Peter Panagos), Best 1st-time director (Joseph Pupello), and Best Actor (Gerard Garlli)  at the Oniros Film Festival in New York Dress Code blow mainstream mobster films out of the water with something that is refreshing and absolutely amazing. Just like getting drawn into a good book, Dress Code draws you in at the first screenshot. Completely engrossed in the storytelling the film flows smoothly keeping your attention the whole film through. 

Performance wise everyone’s performances were realistic and spot on. Frank Osso (Even the Score, Equal Standard) is charming, reminding me a bit of the late great Ray Liotta. Freddie Mass (Better Safe Than Sonny, Big Weekend) powerhouses to perfection as the perfect Italian American mob dad nightmare, and Gerard Garlli (Hard Laughter, Fratello) of course rises shining in his performance. More awards should be coming Dress Codes‘ way. 

My Rating is 10 out of 10

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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