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The Crack Magazine



Director: Marco Bellocchio

Stars: Fausto Russo Alesi, Barbara Ronchi, Paolo Pierobon, Enea Sala, Fabrizio Gifuni, Leonardo Maltese

Veteran director Marco Bellocchio's historical drama has a solid, based-on-a-true-story premise, but the execution is middlebrow. It’s 1858 and Jewish man Solomone Mortara (Alesi) lives with his wife Marianna (Ronchi) and several children in Bologna. Their content bourgeois existence is shattered when soldiers whisk away his eight-year-old son Edgardo Mortara (Sala) in the night on the orders of local priest Feletti (Gifuni). Feletti reveals to the anguished parents that their maid has secretly converted Edgardo to Catholicism, and it was now the job of the church to rear him. Edgardo is taken to Rome where he is placed under the care of Pope Pious IX (Pierobon). The parents’ only option is to convert to Catholicism which they refuse to do. This a self-consciously ‘quality’ production with sumptuous and rich cinematography from DP Francesco Di Giacomo and an overbearing orchestral score from Fabio Massimo Capogrosso. Pierobon goes over the top as the creepy, paranoid pontiff, beset by troubling visions, but he at least brings some much-needed energy to the staid storytelling. The are moments of jarring surrealism, and an ill-advised nightmare sequence is more likely to inspire laughs than discomfort. Excellent performance from Enea Sala as the young Edgardo though.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm