You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Wild Blood

A famed acting duo from Italy's Fascist era gets the traditional biopic treatment in Marco Tullio Giordana's disappointing "Wild Blood."

With: Monica Bellucci, Luca Zingaretti, Alessio Boni, Maurizio Donadoni, Giovanni Visentin, Alessandro Di Natale, Luigi Diberti, Tresy Taddei, Paolo Bonanni, Lavinia Longhi, Gianni Bisacca, Sonia Bergamasco, Marco Paolini, Luigi Lo Cascio.

A famed acting duo from Italy’s Fascist era gets the traditional biopic treatment in Marco Tullio Giordana’s disappointing “Wild Blood.” One of those nagging projects that sat so long on hold that the normally nuanced helmer no longer has any distance, pic plays like small screen melodrama, toying with the fascist/partisan conflict in only the most superficial ways while aiming to rehabilitate the famed couple with an unconvincing explanation for the accusations that led to their execution. Home biz should be reasonably strong, but this bloodless pic won’t be coursing through the arthouse world.

Pic’s Cannes berth won’t do “Wild Blood” any favors, since pushing such standard fare as if it’s chateaubriand is bound to raise expectations that might have been less demanding had it opened simply as a major local release. In Italy, political hot potato issues like the less-than-angelic behaviour of the anti-fascist partisans, not to mention the current rise of the far right, will generate the kinds of parallel buzz offshore ears aren’t attuned to, but even then Giordana’s surprisingly wet treatment adds nothing incisive or complex to the debates.

Many liberties have been taken with the historical record. Brash coke-head screen star Osvaldo Valenti (Luca Zingaretti) finds movie extra Luisa Manfrini (Monica Bellucci) more than fetching. Aristocratic anti-Fascist helmer Golfiero Goffredo (Alessio Boni) is also taken with the charmer, though his Henry Higgins interest is apparently chaste. With her name changed to Luisa Ferida, he launches her career as a star of the first order in the popular mellers and historical epics of the period.

Something about Valenti’s explosive charm proves irresistible to the beautiful Ferida, and they become inseparable, neither paying attention to the political order though she has a protector in Cardi (Luigi Diberti), the fascist director general of the motion picture industry. When Mussolini falls in Rome, Valenti and Ferida head north, where the Fascists still rule in the Republic of Salo. An evening socializing (and more) with notorious Nazi collaborator Pietro Koch (Paolo Bonanni) leads to the mistaken belief that the glamorous couple were involved in the torture of anti-fascist prisoners.

All this is told with frequent shifts forward in time, to April 1945 when Valenti and Ferida surrendered to Golfiero, codenamed Taylor, and his band of partisans. Apparently Golfiero (a completely fictional character), maintains a passion for Ferida despite his homosexuality, and tries to convince his bloodthirsty compatriots that the couple weren’t the Fascist sympathizers rumor claims.

Unfortunately, the flashback structure just feels tired, and characterizations are less than penetrating. Valenti is playful and bellicose but everything, even his cocaine addiction, is surface, while Ferida’s emotional core is empty: who are these people, and where is their three-dimensionality? There’s something ironic, even distasteful, about Giordana poking fun at Ferida’s movies, when the current pic only pretends to be so something beyond a standard meller and sits uncomfortably on the fence regarding the protags’ politics. Sex scenes are especially poor.

Bellucci moves beautifully through the glamorous locations, carrying off ’40s fashion with style, but without a real character beneath her lipstick and turbans she makes little more than a superficial impression. Ditto Zingaretti, while Boni has little to do except look reverential and sad-eyed. Luigi Lo Cascio and Sonia Bergamasco make cameo appearances, the former as a stern-faced executioner convinced of his righteousness.

Giordana’s regular d.p. Roberto Forza gives the whole a handsome, slick appearance without adding any additional layers, and the whole appears trapped in a historical film framework. Occasional B&W newsreel footage helps reinforce the period and leads to a few nice blac-and-white passages, though the opening oddly plays like a festival trailer. Music begins with rich orchestrations but frequently veers into the overly sentimental.


Wild Blood


Production: An 01 Distribution release (in Italy) of a BiBi Film TV, Paradis Films (Italy)/Orly Films (France) production, in collaboration with Rai Fiction, Rai Cinema, Canal Plus. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Angelo Barbagallo. Directed by Marco Tullio Giordana. Screenplay, Leone Colonna, Giordana, Enzo Ungari, based on a story by Giordana.

Crew: Camera (color, B&W), Roberto Forza; editor, Roberto Missiroli; music, Franco Piersanti; production designer, Giancarlo Basili; costume designer, Maria Rita Barbera; sound (Dolby Digital), Fulgenzio Ceccon; casting, Barbara Melega. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (special screenings), May 19, 2008. Running time: 147 MIN.

With: With: Monica Bellucci, Luca Zingaretti, Alessio Boni, Maurizio Donadoni, Giovanni Visentin, Alessandro Di Natale, Luigi Diberti, Tresy Taddei, Paolo Bonanni, Lavinia Longhi, Gianni Bisacca, Sonia Bergamasco, Marco Paolini, Luigi Lo Cascio.

More Film

  • President of the Jury, Mexican director

    Cannes Film Festival 2019 Winners Announced (Updating Live)

    CANNES — The awards show for the 2019 Cannes Film Festival competition is underway. Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven” earned a special mention from the jury. A droll commentary — from a director whose Jacques Tati-like screen persona hardly ever speaks — on his country’s troubles, as reflected through his travels to Paris and [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally agreed upon that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies by iconic [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Soaring to $100 Million-Plus Memorial Day Weekend Debut

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” remake is on its way to a commendable Memorial Day weekend debut with an estimated $109 million over the four-day period. The musical fantasy starring Will Smith and Mena Massoud should uncover about $87 million in its first three days from 4,476 North American theaters after taking in $31 million on Friday. [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe's The Lighthouse' Wins Cannes Critics' Award

    Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, won the Cannes Film Festival critics’ award for best first or second feature in Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, one of the first prizes for which “The Lighthouse” has been eligible at Cannes. The award was announced Saturday in Cannes by the Intl. Federation of [...]

  • promenade Cannes Croisette Cannes Placeholder

    Cannes Market Claims Record Visitor Numbers

    The Cannes Market, the Cannes Film Festival’s commercial wing, says that its 2019 edition welcomed a record number of participants. It reported 12,527 attendees. The largest group by nationality was from the U.S. with 2,264 participants, followed by France with 1,943 participants, and the U.K. 1,145. Comparable figures for 2018 were not available. The number [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Alien' at 40: Ridley Scott Explains Why 'You Don't Show the Monster Too Many Times'

    It’s difficult to imagine Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror classic “Alien” without the clear-minded, strong presence of Tom Skerritt as Dallas, the captain of the ill-fated Nostromo. But originally, the actor turned down “Alien,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary on May 25, though he thought Dan O’Bannon’s script read well. “There was nobody involved at the time [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content