– Francesco Lagi’s film is a ramshackle affair: at times strange and enjoyable, it is mainly characterized by uneven pacing and suffers from an overbearing cinematic legacy.
Vincenzo Nemolato, Giovanni Ludeno, Giorgio Tirabassi, Lino Musella and Valerio Mastandrea in the patafo
Italy is represented by a genre film in the main competition of this year’s Locarno Film Festival: the patafo [+see also:
film profile]written and directed by francesco lagui based on the homonymous novel by Luigi Malerba, published in 1978. The feature film follows the misadventures of a troop led by Marconte Berlocchio (Musella Linen) and his new wife Bernarda (Viviana Cangiano). The two prepare to seize a fief, the small, famine-stricken town of Tripalle, given to them by Bernarda’s father, the king.
The retinue that accompanies Berlocchio hides some peculiar characters, such as the bishop (Alessandro Gasmann), the collector and adviser (giorgio tirabassi) and two flamboyant guards named Ulfredo and Manfredo, played respectively by Vincent Nemolato Y giovanni ludeno. However, once in possession of the manor and the castle, Berlocchio begins imposing impossible taxes on his subjects and requisitioning all of his cattle, which had been granted temporary permission to graze on his land. One night, the cattle and some horses belonging to a handful of soldiers mysteriously disappear. The People’s SpokesmanValerio Mastandrea) is immediately charged with the crime.
General, the patafo features some decent performances (Musella’s talent is clear, and the wily character played by Tirabassi is equally impressive), as well as several witty moments that will make viewers smile, especially when Lagi ventures into the land of black humor and laziness. called deadpan comedy. . But there’s no shortage of false notes here either, with farts and the most traditional bathroom humor.
Throughout, the patafo it lacks the fluidity and flashes of genius necessary to transform it into a finished work. The pace is up and down and suffers from several slow moments, which could have been avoided with better narrative solutions: we are thinking of the continuous back and forth between Tripalle and the neighboring fiefdom of Castellazzo, or the burial sequence, which we can not give more details. without risking a spoiler alert. Even the film’s ending, which is both predictable and rushed, could leave viewers feeling ripped off.
The film isn’t outstanding on the technical side either, except for Stefano Bollani’s throbbing soundtrack, which is both captivating and suits the film’s downbeat tone well.
It must be said that the cinematographic heritage that weighs on Lagi’s work is undeniably onerous. Despite telling a different story than the The Brancaleone gunthe setting, the style of certain gags, the pastiche of Italian, the dialect and “latinorum” spoken by the characters, the veracity of the portrayals, and various other elements are all too explicitly reminiscent of Mario Monicelli and echo his work to varying degrees. of intensity.
As such, comparisons are inevitable, and the film comes off smaller, more like an acting game, which, if broken down into smaller episodes aired on a TV channel or online, and presented as a possible historical pseudo-comedy in monicelian key. style, you could find yourself in a more suitable position, unlike a feature film that lasts about two hours.
However, Lagi’s attempt to dust off a bittersweet cinematographic form from another time, to make it his own and to get out of the prevailing canons of casual and optimistic contemporary comedy, is nevertheless appreciable and, to a certain extent, a success. However, the potential of her capable cast is very little explored.
the patafo is a Vivo Film and RAI Cinema production in co-production with Umedia and Colorado Film. The Match Factory handles international sales.
(Translated from Italian)