Monday, February 24, 2020

Il traditore

Tolstoy’s famous comment “Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” may apply to films about the Mafia. Lattuada’s Mafioso (1962) concentrated on the drama of one man to show its magnetic hold. Then of course there were the Godfather films which are almost Dickensian in their breadth and domesticity and The Irishman which though investigative was more about the iconic cast that Scorsese's assembled. Marco Bellocchio’s Il Traditore, currently playing at Film Forum, is similarly documentary, but has a hard-edged cinema verité approach. Where Coppola and Scorsese couched their grisly plots in a comfortably cathartic epic narrative, here the reality of history creates a mixture of confusion, boredom and even disorientation in the viewer. It's life. Even when the traitor of the title, Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino), is about to blow the whistle on the Sicilian underworld to the investigative judge Giovanni Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi), it feels anti-climactic. You're not sure what's going to happen and how. Though the mobsters are apprehended, the trial's a circus. There's a distinct feeling of disconnect. Will these civilized conversations between the judge and the whistleblower Buscetta result in shaking the hold of the syndicate? The one fictional device that's exploited throughout is leitmotif and a repeated theme is that the mafia never forgets (though Buscetta discountenances the appellation). Neither does its number #1 snitch who is plagued by nightmares. A potential hit covers himself with his infant son and later clings on to the child as a shield. Years pass, but the minute the son gets married, the execution finally takes place. Little moments stick in your head like one in which a prison dorm is emptied when a prostitute is brought in with the comment “Buscetta likes to fuck.” It’s stark, but it’s repeated as a theme throughout the movie. Toto Riini (Nicolo Cali) a capo dei capi is differentiated by his maxim, “better to command than fuck.” Cosa Nostra literally translates as “our thing,” but how do these words apply to the movie's palette? Bellocchio doesn't really answer the question. However, Il traditore is deeply unsettling and even anxiety provoking to the extent that it's far more open-ended and closer to a clear delineation of the enormous power of organized crime than its forebears.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.