Mancuso is not what you would call talkative, but he is a direct communicator.
He is a mafia hitman-driver, because it suits his skill set and social
aptitude. Any possible relationship with blind Rita is probably therefore
destined to fail, especially since he is out to kill her brother in Fabio Grassadonia
& Antonio Piazza’s Salvo (trailer here), which releases
on DVD today from Film Movement.
are tough for the Sicilian mob. Mancuso’s boss is not exactly in hiding, but he
is definitely hunkering down. Someone also decided it was a good time to try to
take out Mancuso and his associate. He was wrong. After coolly dispatching the
hit squad, Mancuso heads after the name they give up: Renato. Slightly complicating
matters, the treacherous money-handler lives with his blind sister, who helps
manage his back-office operation—but only slightly.
Salvo begins with a
stone cold action sequence and segues into a virtuoso one-shot spectacle,
following Mancuso as he stalks through the Renatos’ home, while Rita slowly
realizes she is not alone. In a further twist, the extreme nature of Mancuso’s
violent presence apparently gives her uncanny bouts of sightedness. It is inspired
filmmaking—sort of like watching Wait
Until Dark from the drug ring’s perspective. Grassadonia & Piazza
masterful direct the intricate traffic patterns and cinematographer Daniele
Ciprì captures it in all its claustrophobic glory.
neither Mancuso the character nor the co-director-screenwriters really know
what to do with Rita once he stashes her in an abandoned factory rather than
killing her, as protocol would demand. As a result, the midsection gets rather
bogged down, before everyone rouses themselves for a respectable climatic
Mancuso, Saleh Bakri broods and glowers like nobody’s business. Even with his
minimal dialogue, he commands the picture. (Frankly, Bakri does not look Texan,
but the press materials say he is Palestinian, so he must be.) Arguably, Sara
Serraiocco has an even trickier part, portraying Rita from moments of unguarded
vulnerability through her strange pseudo-empowerment. Nobody really talks much
in Salvo, but Mario Pupella’s mob
boss clearly relishes delivering all the best lines.
Hailing from Palermo themselves, Grassadonia
& Piazza capitalize on the city’s depressed, post-industrial backdrops,
using them to mirror the spiritual rot of their characters. It basically does
for Sicily what Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah
did for Naples, but Salvo is
considerably grabbier. While undeniably uneven, it is exactly the sort of film
that is well worth catching up with on DVD. Recommended as the first feature
from a conspicuously talented filmmaking partnership, Salvo goes on-sale today.
Labels: DVD, Gangster Films, Italian Cinema