Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Original title: La Tragedia Di Un Uomo Ridicolo
Italy, 1981. Fiction Cinematografica S.p.a.. Screenplay by Bernardo Bertolucci. Cinematography by Carlo Di Palma. Produced by Giovanni Bertolucci. Music by Ennio Morricone. Costume Design by Lina Nerli Taviani. Film Editing by Gabriella Cristiani. Cannes Film Festival 1981.
Middling Bertolucci drama about a cheese factory owner (Ugo Tognazzi) who witnesses his son being kidnapped before having a ransom demanded of him. In order to pay, Tognazzi would have to sell his giant home and factory, and is having doubts about doing these things; couldn’t there possibly be a way to keep from losing what he built from scratch and still get his son back? His wife (Anouk Aimee, looking gorgeous) doesn’t care and only wants to see her son, and their differing opinions on how to deal with the situation begins to drive them apart while Tognazzi seeks the company of his son’s factory worker girlfriend (a very young Laura Morante). Presumably, Bertolucci is making a statement about class mobility or the demoralizing lure of capitalism, but his treatment of the subject is surface and the characters are never psychologically explored enough to be engaging. For a film that’s all surface, however, it doesn’t indulge in any aesthetic pleasures either (despite gorgeous photography by Carlo Di Palma), so the overall effect is unremarkable other than some very good performances. Kidnap Syndicate is a much more shameless genre indulgence but is more satisfying for not trying so hard to pass itself as anything deeper than what it is.