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Missione di pace

Diverting black comedy is marbled with moments of high drama and surreal wit and is competently assembled, though its mixed bag of influences keeps the pic, written by five screenwriters, from finding its own groove.

With:
With: Silvio Orlando, Francesco Brandi, Alba Rohrwacher, Filippo Timi, Antonella Attili, Tommaso Ragno, Ivo Ban, Mariano Pirrello, Francesco Colella, Aram Kian, Bugo, Stefano Rota. (Italian, Slovenian dialogue)

A vet Italo army captain and his ferociously pacifist son go hunting for war criminals together in “Missione di pace,” from frosh Italian helmer Francesco Lagi. Diverting black comedy is marbled with moments of high drama and surreal wit and is competently assembled, though its mixed bag of influences — which include Mario Monicelli’s comedies all’italiana, “MASH,” and recent American anti-war indies such as “The Men Who Stare at Goats” — keeps the pic, written by five screenwriters, from finding its own groove. Local rather than foreign capitulations are likeliest.

Silvio Orlando (“The Caiman”) is Capt. Vinciguerra (an actual surname that means “war winner”), who’s stationed in former Yugoslavia on a peacekeeping mission, though those last words would be in quotation marks if his peace-activist son, Giacomo (Francesco Brandi), had his way. Giacomo has driven east to plant a peace tree but finds himself, very much against his will, reunited with Dad and a former Yugoslav leader (Ivo Ban). Father-son bickering is believable throughout, though Alba Rohrwacher, as a femme soldier, and Filippo Timi, as a delirious Che Guevara who appears in Giacomo’s dreams, steal the show. Title means “Peace Mission.”

Missione di pace

Italy

Production: A Bianca Film, Rai Cinema presentation of a Bianca Film production, in association with Rai Cinema. Produced by Donatella Botti. Directed by Francesco Lagi. Screenplay, Lahi, Umberto Contarello, Filippo Gravino, Marco Pettenello.

Crew: Camera (color, 35mm-to-HD), Arnaldo Catinari; editor, Danilo Torre; music, Bugo; production designer, Mauro Vanzati; costume designer, Antonella Cannarozzi. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Critics' Week -- closer, noncompeting), Sept. 9, 2011. Running time: 87 MIN.

With: With: Silvio Orlando, Francesco Brandi, Alba Rohrwacher, Filippo Timi, Antonella Attili, Tommaso Ragno, Ivo Ban, Mariano Pirrello, Francesco Colella, Aram Kian, Bugo, Stefano Rota. (Italian, Slovenian dialogue)

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