Though absolutes should generally be avoided, it’s safe to say “Diaz: Don’t Clean Up This Blood” breaks the record for most truncheon beatings in one movie. It’s also high on the sadistic-cop list, since the over-the-top brutality rivals that of the most blatant propaganda films. Few intelligent people would deny the horrific level of violence inflicted on G8 protestors in Genoa in 2001, but Daniele Vicari overplays his bloated re-creation in every scene until viewers feel pummelled into annoyed tedium rather than outraged righteousness. Finding an audience will be a battle in itself.
Though certain to get released in the three countries that backed the film, the pic is unlikely to see strong returns. Italians, famously unwilling to read subtitles, won’t cotton to the multi-lingo approach, on top of which the country unfortunately tends to push recent traumas off the radar. Some crix might be forgiving thanks to the subject, but even fest support will be minimal. Given its structure, “Diaz” would be better turned into a two-part TV movie.
An international cast is stuffed into so many stories that there’s little emotional attachment apart from impersonal pangs of sympathy at seeing someone beaten to semi-consciousness. A tossed glass bottle shattering on the pavement divides the pic into segments, each focusing on the p.o.v. of protestors, cops and journalists, but the structure feels lost and the bottle’s only possible utility is as a signal for commercial breaks.
“Diaz” offers no background, especially problematic with some of the Black Bloc characters, a small band of violent anarchists who came to Genoa with the intention of wreaking havoc. Pic cries out for some understanding of why and wherefore but Vicari and his scripters don’t seem concerned with deep roles.
In general outline: Badass cops were furious that a small core of international hooligans with an anarchist agenda were goading them via semi-organized street chaos. With the complicity of evil suits, the police raided the Diaz school, where hundreds of mostly peaceful demonstrators were legally sleeping. After beating everyone to a bloody pulp, they hauled their victims off to jail where many endured further assaults and humiliation. All this is reported in several docus, including “The Summit,” which preemed in the Panorama sidebar at Berlin.
“Diaz” has no focus, but some of the characters include good cop Max (Claudio Santamaria); Luca (Elio Germano), the journalist in the wrong place at the wrong time; Alma (Jennifer Ulrich), the German demonstrator who suffers the worst torture; Marco (Davide Iacopini), the idealistic organizer; and Etienne (Ralph Amoussou), the French anarchist. Luca, Alma and most of the cast are doused in splashes of the 13.2 gallons of blood listed in the press notes.
Grainy lensing emphasizes the gritty action, paired with helicopter shots of Genoa whose out-of-focus edges recall snapper Ben Thomas’ “Cityshrinker” series of model cities. It looks nice, but nothing in the pic explains why these scenes are there. Editing is so messy it’s hard to believe Benni Atria also worked on the immaculately cut “Le quattro volte.”
Awkward title refers to a moment after the melee, when a sign was posted that read “Don’t Clean Up This Blood,” meaning the event itself mustn’t be washed away.