mon 10/08/2020

LFF 2012: It Was the Son | reviews, news & interviews

LFF 2012: It Was the Son

LFF 2012: It Was the Son

Italy's film renaissance continues with this powerful tragicomedy about a Mafia murder's aftermath

Scrapheap challenge: Nico (Toni Servillo) looks to get out from under

Italian cinema’s resurgence can be felt in the ghetto-operatic sweep of Daniele Cipri’s cautionary Sicilian tale. Like Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah follow-up Reality (also at the LFF), it shows an initially likeable working-class family unravelled by passing contact with temptation. For Garrone’s far more sympathetic family, that’s the prospect of fame on Big Brother. Here, a child of Palermo scrap-dealer Nico Ciraulos (Toni Servillo) is killed during a botched Mafia hit.

Cipri doesn’t bother trying to make us grieve, which the family don’t either after they realise that as Mafia victims they’re eligible for substantial state compensation. As Italian bureaucratic wheels consider turning, the Cirauloses spend the cash long before it arrives. When it finally does, Nico is dangerously enraptured by the Mercedes it buys. This film’s world is so sturdily, stealthily built, its satiric tone and excessive style easily slip into bloody tragedy.

It’s a folk tale, really – the Merc might as well be a stallion, and the Sicily Cipri depicts, whose sun drains the film’s colour, is populated by ripe archetypes. Toni Servillo’s towering energy has been perversely leashed by Paolo Sorrentino in the pair’s best-known films in the UK, The Consequences of Love and Il Divo. He lets rip here as a floridly expressive, likeable braggart, a parodically Italian charismatic clown, whose simmering frustrations at his life are poured into his beloved, fetishised Merc.  

Cipri holds back a one-two punch of haunting emotional power, but mostly trusts in the inherent pleasures of his darkly cynical story.  

This film’s world is so sturdily, stealthily built, its satiric tone and excessive style easily slip into bloody tragedy

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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