A Violent Life (1962)

18 03 2008

Well, I hate to say it, but this was pretty disappointing. Admittedly, my expectations were quite high considering the fact Pasolini wrote the screenplay but it seems like despite his great ideas, the filmmakers did everything within in their power to simplify every scenario. This is automatically at a disadvantage being a lot like Pasolini’s own Mama Romma, which is pretty much a perfect movie. But even without that in mind, this still seems manipulative, silly, and predictable.

Tomasso and his friends drift around town committing petty crimes in an effort to shape some sort of protest. One day he meets Irene, and falls for immediately but his violent nature only complicates things between the couple. In an attempt for atonement, he arranges a serenade for her, but the police breaks it up and he goes to jail for 18 months. When he gets out, he immediately wants to see her but she is not completely on board with his marriage proposal. Not much later, he falls ill and is sent to a rehabilitation facility. He gets out, and things look good, but he then falls ill again.

The two directors of the film, Brunello Rondi and Paolo Heusch, both went on to make Emmannuelle movies, which explains a lot of how superficial this film really is. Tomasso and his gang are so obviously made out to be cool and edgy beat generation guys. A stupid image that is suppose to substitute for substantial character depth. It’s great when a writer or director can make the protagonist a participant in socially unacceptable things, but in this case, the characters are just villains. The way they’re photographed with the overly-intrusive score make any “violent” scene feel just like it’s out of a comic-book.

When the film finally attempts to flesh a character out, the results are dubious. Not only can the Tomasso character articulate his thoughts far too well, but his actions are completely stupid. Yes, sometime your thoughts and emotions can lead you to do odd things but never for the price of making a character look like a moron. Certainly the film is made in a technically competent way but there’s absolutely nothing at it’s core. Considering the fact that Mama Romma does exist, there’s no reason to really even bother watching this, except for the fact that the girl is really pretty. Some sequences could be insightful and beautiful in a different context, but here they become a waste. I guess my words will strike some as harsh, but the film is actually okay but it’s just that the depiction of alienated youth is one hundred percent off-target.

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