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.