Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Movie Review #262: "Black Souls" (2014)

Movie"Black Souls"/"Anime Nere"
Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Francesco Munzi
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes
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Leo (Giuseppe Fumo) is the son of a goat farmer named Luciano (Fabrizio Ferracane), but Leo has no interest in following in his father's footsteps. Leo is more interested in the business of his uncles Luigi (Marco Leonardi) and Rocco (Peppino Mezzotta), who deal in drugs and head a small crime family, a business Luciano never wanted any part of. When Leo creates some trouble by shooting up a local bar, it may be his family who pays for his mistake.   

To say "Blacks Souls" isn't interesting would be a lie, because it is, in fact, very much so. We were extremely intrigued by its premise and the interactions taking place on screen. The acting is solid and great and the drama is plenty throughout. Here, we have another movie dealing with the mob, this time set in the Italian heartland itself. It is a character sketch of a family, but not one specific person in said family. Each male member gets their chance to shine in the spotlight and we slowly learn how each of them are connected, if at all, to the mob that has seemingly torn them apart, sometimes limb from limb. This is very much a modern day "live by the sword, die by the sword" type of tale deeply rooted in realism, tradition and anger. In fact, we wonder if director Francesco Munzi was influenced by his real life and his own personal experiences to make a story this realistic. The mafia is heavily entrenched in this particular family, as well as their Italian community as a whole, yet there never seems to be any concrete, real facts to go on when placing the blame on others, it's always just a given. There is always hearsay that other rival mobsters were behind certain murders and betrayals, but little else other than speculation and the need for revenge. Much like "A Most Violent Year" from earlier this year, this film is a slow-burning, dramatic affair wrought with backstabbing and tears, though the violence is kept to a relative minimum when considering the gangster genre as a whole, especially its American counterparts like "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas."

The way the film ended was deeply perplexing to say the least. While we think we know the impact filmmakers were going for, but to us it felt like large chunks of the movie were mysteriously missing. Certain plot points were brought up and discussed at length, only to go nowhere in the end. The audience is left with little clues as to what is meant to happen, but it wraps up ambiguously, which both helps and hurts the film. It seems as if Munzi was interested in telling a realistic story so much so that he ended up sacrificing his part of his narrative to get there. This is definitely not a movie for the American public at large because of this rapid conclusion and the lack of a general story. It might be authentic, but the absence of any clear direction, its downtrodden feel and its inconclusive finale can leave you wanting a lot more from "Black Souls" than what you are given.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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