Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
Original title: I Pugni In Tasca
Italy, 1965. Doria. Screenplay by Marco Bellocchio. Cinematography by Alberto Marrama. Produced by Enzo Doria. Music by Ennio Morricone. Production Design by Gisella Longo. Film Editing by Silvano Agosti, Anita Cacciolati.
Marco Bellocchio’s directorial debut is a searing indictment of bourgeois family values in a conservatively Catholic Italy. A dysfunctional clan living in a small town are headed by its eldest sibling, a conformist, ‘normal’ young man who longs to marry his girlfriend and get a place in town with her. Meanwhile, his younger brother (a Brandoesque Lou Castel) begins to assert himself and puts into action a plan to rid his family of its dead weight, including his blind mother and mentally challenged brother. He himself suffers from epileptic attacks, while the family’s sole female sibling has incestuous feelings for her eldest brother that make her jealous of his relationship with his fiancee. Bellocchio’s darkly humorous film does a terrific job of rebelling against conventional morality, pulling apart its characters and pushing them in unknown directions (to the point that directors like Antonioni and Bunuel were highly disapproving of the film), but that, oddly enough, doesn’t change the fact that it is tedious and flat. The drama never reaches beyond a mild fizzle, the pacing is horrid, and there isn’t one single character with a sympathetic (even in the anti-hero manner) viewpoint.
The Criterion Collection: #333