Obvious TV-level sentimentality, cringe-worthy dialogue and often execrable acting aside, Michele Soavi’s “The Blood of the Victims” stands out as a dangerous example of historical manipulation disguised as relativism. Purporting to be a balanced drama of the bitter fighting between Italy’s partisans and Salo Fascists at the end of WWII, pic reveals itself as an apologia for the Black Shirts, acknowledging the occasional atrocities of Mussolini’s supporters but presenting the perps as defenders of their country’s honor. Given Italy’s rightward swing, such sentiments will find supporters, especially among TV viewers.
Political leanings are exposed with the choice of opening — newsreels of partisans exacting revenge on collaborators — and closing, which reinforces the deeply suspect argument that the Fascists were true patriots. Detective Francesco (Michele Placido, embarrassing) investigates the murder of prostitute Costantina (Barbora Bobulova, who also plays Costantina’s twin) during the Allied bombing of Rome. Meanwhile, his partisan brother Ettore (Alessandro Preziosi) and Fascist sis Lucia (Alina Nedelea) fight it out, accompanied by legions of stereotypes. Both sides commit crimes, but the script repeatedly offers defenses for Mussolini acolytes. Art direction poorly evokes the period.