Tiburzi” is one of those well-researched, semi-dramatized and largely static historical biopics that has Euro TV written all over it. There’s a kernel of an idea (and a good lead performance) in this second feature by Pisa-based filmmaker Paolo Benvenuti, but only specialists and the faithful are going to turn up for this study of the legendary 19th century Tuscan outlaw.
Drawn from documents of the time, pic charts the final hours in October 1896 of Domenico Tiburzi (Pio Gianelli), an aging brigand who once ruled the region of Maremma, between Tuscany and Lazio, with an iron grip. The age of the outlaw is drawing to a close, and land owners who once collaborated with Tiburzi to maintain order now combine with the forces of the still-young Italian state to get rid of the old man. Anti-brigand specialist Michele Giacheri (Marcello Bartolomei) is sent to do the job.
Events are related almost entirely from the pursuers’ perspective, with stiffish scenes that are stronger on authenticity than drama. The hunted Tiburzi establishes a presence fairly late on, but Gianelli’s quietly contained perf packs a lot into a little screen time, his grizzled face suggesting the man’s former ruthlessness, as well as the anachronism he’s become as the 20th century dawns.
Costuming and other details have the whiff of accuracy, and Benvenuti’s tableau-style direction exerts a growing sense of claustrophobia as the unseen forces close in on Tiburzi’s hideout. General tenor of the complex historical-social background is fairly clear for general viewers.