A skillfully constructed crisscrosser in which various destinies converge during a bank raid, pic is an appealingly written look at a certain cross-section of southern Italian society, peopled by Mafiosi and illegal immigrants. Good-looking second feature by Stefano Incerti ("Il verificatore") could have a modest offshore career in the right hands.

A skillfully constructed crisscrosser in which various destinies converge during a bank raid, “Before Sunset” is an appealingly written look at a certain cross-section of southern Italian society, peopled by Mafiosi and illegal immigrants. This good-looking second feature by Stefano Incerti (“Il verificatore”) could have a modest offshore career in the right hands.

Ali (Said Taghmaoui) is a young Moroccan immigrant who bails out of his wedding to a local Mafioso’s daughter at the last moment and hides out in a hotel with his true love, voluptuous fellow Moroccan Assia (Maud Buquet). Narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Mafioso’s thugs, Ali steals on board a bus driven by the beautiful Angela (Simona Cavallari) and heads toward a small community of Moroccans who’ll help to smuggle him out of the country.

During the first half-hour, the movie sets up a number of different narratives strands involving a Mafia henchman, Domenico (Ninni Bruschetta), who wasn’t invited to the wedding and has taken his family to the beach instead; his partner in smuggling in illegal immigrants, Vito (Gigi Savoia); and two post office employees who spend their time gossiping about their hated boss and planning their futures. Role of the last two in the overall story is clarified only near the end.

An hour into the film, the characters’ destinies slowly start to overlap, with ultimately violent results. Apart from watching the mechanism of the movie gradually click into place, the main pleasure of the film is the multitude of well-drawn, involving protagonists, each given his own set of dreams and ambitions; even small roles — such as Domenico’s bored, dumb wife, eyeing a beautiful young teen on the beach — are sketched with impressive economy. Dialogue, especially between petty hoods Domenico and Vito, is funny and flavorsome without going over the top.

Pino Donaggio’s music gives the pic shape and emotional depth, and Pasquale Mari’s lensing, as the day wears on, catches the changes in the Mediterranean light with precision.

Before Sunset

Italy

Production

A Cecchi Gori Group release (in Italy) of a Mario & Vittorio Cecchi Gori presentation in association with Tele-Plus. Produced by Vittorio and Rita Cecchi Gori. Directed by Stefano Incerti. Screenplay, Eugenio Melloni, Incerti, story by Melloni.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Pasquale Mari; editor, Carlotta Cristiani; music, Pino Donaggio; art director, Renato Lori; sound (Dolby Digital), Glauco Puletta; assistant director, Peter Cottino. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 5, 1999. Running time: 95 MIN.

Cast

With: Said Taghmaoui, Vincenzo Peluso, Ninni Bruschetta, Gigi Savoia, Simona Cavallari, Peppino Mazzotta, Maud Buquet. (Italian, French and Arabic dialogue)
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