The death in 2003 of Fiat head Giovanni Agnelli occurred amid chronic crisis in the Italian car firm. Helmer Gianfranco Barberi aims to explore the public reaction to Agnelli’s death in “Requiem,” a powerful but skewed look at the promises and failures of capitalism in the auto industry’s hometown of Turin. A more polemical work than the similarly themed “A Fiat Hamlet,” docu requires too strong a knowledge of Italian union politics to play well in offshore locales.
The first 13 minutes are a wordless B&W recording of mourners filing past Agnelli’s coffin. Only then are visitors asked why they came, most responding in generalities. Pic then shifts to color, showing union marches and agitated workers with pink slips. There’s no mistaking Barberi’s take on the subject, but he wants to have it both ways: He damns the company but fails to see that the workers who mourn Agnelli’s death mourn the loss of a perception of job security. Final scenes of a distraught woman addressing a union meeting are compelling, but helmer’s overly calculated style leaves a sense of a story only partly told.