A desperate illegal immigrant and a frosty older widower discover the importance of interpersonal communication in twins Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio’s feature helming debut, “Seven Acts of Mercy.” A meticulously crafted yet over-intellectualized drama whose preternatural seriousness acts like a leaden shroud, the pic aims for a nuanced and unprejudiced portrait of two social outcasts, but gives too little information for them to earn anything other than knee-jerk sympathy. Outside scattered fest dates, “Seven Acts” is unlikely to receive much mercy from locals in either of its home countries.
Limited visual clues help anchor viewers dropped into the story without background info. Romanian Luminita (Olimpia Melinte, one-note) robs patients in a hospital and survives on pilfered food. She sees frail yet prickly Antonio (Roberto Herlitzka) as easy prey, invading his home and using it as a temporary haven for a kidnapped baby she plans to trade for work papers. Stockholm syndrome speedily develops and the lonely duo tentatively relaxes in silent platonic companionship. Chapter divisions, marking the eponymous seven acts, offer the sole bit of irony. Smooth, meditative lensing furthers the somber feel, touched with self-importance.