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We can see Ferrara's love for the project but little comes through. It's a mess
"To scandalize is a right to be scandalized is a pleasure" -Pier Paolo Pasolini
Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival #4
Pasolini was undeniably one the Festival's highlights, I considered it a must see and so did many because the theater was packed. Not only we were going to see the picture but we were also have the opportunity of hearing Maria de Medeiros (who's in the picture) reading some of Pier Paolo's poems and then after words of having a talk with Abel Ferrara. I was pretty excited, but I really just hoped for a decent movie.
Pasolini is Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and it stars Willem Dafoe, Maria de Medeiros, Riccardo Scamarcio, Giada Colagrande, Adriana Asti and Tatiana Luter.
To be sincere I left disappointed, I mean this is just not a good movie. Still though I'm glad I saw it and I'm glad I had this experience, it was worth it even if just to see Abel Ferrara. I'm a fan of the man, I have seen very little of his filmography but he certainly made an impression on me and on the rest of the audience that stayed. The highlight was the interview bit, Ferrara was a bit off the hook, very loose, feeling at home, cursing and being super sarcastic and honest at the same time. It's sad but yeah, I think Ferrara himself had more energy and life than the picture. Even sadder because you could see that Ferrera was an admirer of Pier Paolo's work.
In Pasolini we follow the last few hours of Pier Paolo's life, as we follow him through his lunch with his family, through an interview, through his memories and ultimately his death. This kind of narrative can work, this idea has definitely worked out in the past but it doesn't here. It's incredible to see how the film lost focus and control of it's narrative, even though it was only 80 minutes long and even though the concept is so simple. I felt lost and emotionally unmoved by it all. Sequences like the "film sequence" of the picture are scenes that ruined the movie.
I was actually extremely surprised to see how little Pasolini (Willem Dafoe) there actually was in the picture, it was almost as though he's a supporting character in his own picture. It's as though there is no lead actor. Some people say that that was a good thing, that less is more and I agree to some extent, I admire the unsentimentally with which the story is told but that ultimately led into becoming a cold picture. Pasolini, a man whose life was so fascinating since he was revolutionary figure with his ideas and his approach to art plus the controversy and talk that he brought with him. I wanted to take a look into the man's thoughts, ideas, I wanted insight, I guess that was what I was looking for and that I did not get.
Before seeing the film, I was so excited to see Willem Dafoe impersonating Pier Paolo, in the end though, we don't even see that much from him. When he's on screen he's able to capture something true and he grabs the screen, however his performance is far from memorable which is disappointing. There's not enough of him. Dafoe is good while on screen and one example is the interview scene, which is the highlight of the picture. The mood and tension are palpable and Dafoe owns it.
The audience and I were left disappointed, as I could hear whispers saying "I didn't like it". Many immediately left the theater and didn't wait for the highlight which was Ferrara's presence. He was more entertaining and had more life than the film itself. A film that feels awfully pale, with little to say. It's a little bit of a mess, from underdeveloped characters and plot, to bad narrative construction choices. Dafoe's performance and Ferrara's love for the picture were not enough to save the film.
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