Saturday, May 21, 2016

2016 Cannes Marathon: Love and Anarchy

(Best Actor Prize to Giancarlo Giannini at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival)

Written and directed by Lina Wertmuller, Love and Anarchy is the story of an anarchist who stays in a brothel as he attempts to assassinate Benito Mussolini in Fascist-era Italy before World War II. The film is an exploration of Fascist Italy and how a man tries to stop it while he deals with his surroundings where he falls in love with a prostitute at the brothel. Starring Giancarlo Giannini, Mariangela Melato, Eros Pagni, Pina Cei, and Lina Polito. Love and Anarchy is an entrancing yet gripping film from Lina Wertmuller.

Set in 1930s Fascist-Italy under the rule of Benito Mussolini, the film revolves around a farmer who decides to take up the cause of a friend to kill Mussolini as he travels to Rome and meets his contact at a brothel. There, he deals with a world that is very foreign to him as he also finds himself falling for a young prostitute where he copes with what he has to do as he is torn between his duty and love. Lina Wertmuller’s script doesn’t just explore the conflict that Antonio “Tunin” Soffiantini (Giancarlo Giannini) faces but the fact that he is just a simple farmer that has never experienced life in the city as well as having very little clue in what to do in his attempt to kill Mussolini. Even as he would ponder many possibilities into what might happen but also its aftermath as he becomes troubled. In meeting the young prostitute Tripolina (Lina Polito), Tunin wonders if there is a future but he is still courted to carry out his mission by his contact in another prostitute in Salome (Mariangela Melato) who has her own motives in wanting the mission to happen as it relates to a lot that is going on in Italy.

Wertmuller’s direction is very intoxicating for not just the way she presents Italy during that period but also in this growing sense of disconnect and struggle that looms in the country. The film opens and ends with the image of a desolate location in rural Italy where it looks like a land that has been flooded where a man is being chased by the police in this brief but thrilling tracking shot. Wertmuller’s usage of the wide shots for these locations including some ravishing moments in some of the exterior shots in Rome including a few of its landmark play a lot into this strange world Tunin is in as well as some of the people encounter. Most notably a man named Spatoletti (Eros Pagni) who is this brash member of the secret police that Salome knows as Tunin thinks the man is just a fuckin’ asshole. Especially as Spatoletti is a man that is very disconnected from the realities of the world as he has no idea what farmers go through and thinks he lives in a better environment.

Wertmuller would also a maintain an intimacy and energy in the way the brothel is where it is quite lavish and it has something that feels modern during its time period. It is also a place that has this air of escapism against what was happening in Italy where Wertmuller maintains a tone where it’s the women that are in charge and the men are just these eager customers wanting to get laid. Wertmuller’s usage of close-ups and medium shots not only capture that intimacy but also in the way the character gaze into what they’re seeing. Especially Tunin where Wertmuller’s close-ups would capture every bit of detail into his face and the anguish he deals with what he has to do. Especially in the third act where it is about these final moments before the assassination but also what happens on the day of the event as it is emotionally-charged and filled with a lot of these very intense moments. Especially in the aftermath as it says a lot about the rule of the Fascists and how it affected the country that nearly went into ruins following World War II. Overall, Wertmuller creates a haunting yet riveting film about an anarchist’s attempt to kill Benito Mussolini.

Cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno does incredible work with the film‘s gorgeous cinematography to the way many of the daytime interiors at the brothel look with its approach to low-key lighting and colors along with some of the scenes set at night including a long sequence set in the streets of Rome at night. Editor Franco Fraticelli does nice work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with bits of stylish flair to play into some of the humor and the intensity of the drama including its climax. Art director Gianni Giovagnoni does fantastic work with the look of the brothel and the rooms of its characters as well as the house where the assassination was to take place and the farm that Tunin used to live in.

Costume designer Enrico Job does brilliant work with the costumes as it has this air of style in the way many of the characters looked from the overly-stylized clothes of the prostitutes to the look of the high fashion the people of Rome wear. Sound effects editor/foley artist Italo Cameracanna does terrific work with the sound in the way some of the sound effects are presented as well as some of the raucous moments in the brothel. The film’s music by Nino Rota and Carlo Savina is amazing for its mixture of Rota’s orchestral-based score that play into some of the drama and lively moments of the film to Savina’s more ominous score with its string instruments that says a lot to the dark aspects that were happening in Fascist-era Italy.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Roberto Herlitzka as the original assassin who is a friend of Tunin, Isa Bellini as a fellow prostitute named Zoraide, Elena Fiore as a brothel organizer in Donna Carmela, and Pina Cei as the brothel mastermind Madame Aida. Eros Pagni is excellent as the very brash Spatoletti as this police official who takes Tunin, Salome, and Tripolina to the country where he mocks the poor as well as display ideas that really upsets Tunin. Lina Polito is fantastic as the young prostitute Tripolina who catches Tunin’s eye as a ball of energy and life as she would also give Tunin an idea of a possible future. Mariangela Melato is amazing as Salome as a prostitute who is Tunin’s contact where she provides some instructions but also motives of her own as it relates to the assassination. Finally, there’s Giancarlo Giannini in a phenomenal performance as Antonio “Tunin” Soffiantini as this simple farmer who decides to finish a job for a friend unaware of what he’s doing and where he is going as it’s a very somber yet riveting performance as a man dealing with his task as well as a lot of conflicts as it is really one Giannini’s quintessential performances.

Love and Anarchy is a tremendous film from Lina Wertmuller that features an incredible performance from Giancarlo Giannini. It’s a film that doesn’t just explore life during Fascist Italy but also the ideas of anarchy and a man’s struggle to do his duty but also dealing with love during a dark period in history. In the end, Love and Anarchy is a spectacular film from Lina Wertmuller.

Lina Wertmuller Films: (The Lizards) - (Let’s Talk About Men) - (Rita the Mosquito) - (Don’t Sting the Mosquito) - (The Belle Starr Story) - The Seduction of Mimi - (All Screwed Up) - Swept Away (1974 film) - Seven Beauties - (A Night Full of Rain) - (Blood Feud) - (A Joke of Destiny) - (Softly, Softly) - (Camorra (A Story of Streets, Women and Crime) - (Summer Night) - (As Long as It’s Love) - (The Tenth One in Hiding) - (Ciao, Professore!) - (The Nymph) - (The Blue Collar Worker and the Hairdresser in a Whirl of Sex and Politics) - (Ferdinando and Carolina) - (Too Much Romance…It’s Time for Stuffed Peppers)

© thevoid99 2016

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