Several young deadbeats in a Roman housing project try to get through the day in "Et in terra pax," a slow-burning slice of Italo neo-neorealism.

Several young deadbeats in a Roman housing project try to get through the day in “Et in terra pax,” a slow-burning slice of Italo neo-neorealism. Frosh helmers Matteo Botrugno and Daniele Coluccini’s gritty take on the down-and-out in a ‘hood where drugs, petty crime and the threat of violence are everyday occurrences updates early Pasolini to the present and paints an unflattering verite picture that feels lived-in and sadly stagnant — at least until the Sturm-und-Drang third act. Small but solid item could further travel the fest circuit.

Marco (Maurizio Tesei) has just been released from the slammer and wants to mend his ways, but his mates offer him a bag of drugs to sell as compensation for not telling on them when he was arrested. Saintly Sonia (Ughetta D’onorascenzo), whose only vice is smoking, has a gentle conversation with Marco in the pic’s quietly poetic setpiece before things spin out of control, courtesy of three hoodlums and raging homophobia. Desaturated, well-framed lensing, location work and non-pro thesps’ ragged acting is neatly counterbalanced by use of classical music, including the titular Vivaldi piece, in lieu of a traditional score.

Et in terra pax

Italy

Production

A Kimerafilm and Settembrini Film presentation and production, in association with Ellipsis Media Intl., Redigital, Arcopinto. Produced by Gianluca Arcopinto, Simone Isola. Directed by Matteo Botrugno, Daniele Coluccini. Screenplay, Botrugno, Coluccini, Andrea Esposito.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-35mm, widescreen), Davide Manca; editor, Mario Marrone; production designers, Laura Boni; Irene Iaccio; costume designers, Irene Amantini, Chiara Baglioni, Pierluigi Porfirio. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Sept. 8, 2009. (Also in Tokyo Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Maurizio Tesei, Ughetta D'onorascenzo, Michele Botrugno, Fabio Gomiero, Germano Gentile, Simone Crisari, Riccardo Flammini, Paolo Perinelli.

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