Bafflingly comic and disturbing in equal measure, new film from Italian director Marco Bellocchio showcases independent cinema at its most unique.
Italian director Marco Bellocchio has a string of awards to his name, from Cannes to Venice, the Vincere director has long been making a name for himself on the festival circuit. The setting for his latest film, Blood of My Blood (Sangue del mio sangue) is Bellocchio's own home town of Bobbia. The film presents a Machiavellian portrait of Italian society, addressing some uncomfortable truths about the country's religious past and economic present.
Blood of My Blood follows two parallel stories in the quiet Northern Italian province – one set in the modern day and one in the 17th century. A young man, Federico arrives at a local monastery to complain about the unconsecrated burial of his brother, a priest, who has committed suicide. A nun, Benadetta with whom the deceased had an affair is now held on a witch trial for pacting with the devil and driving him to this irreligious demise.
We leave the 17th Century in media res, to find ourselves in the same town, but in the modern day. In the second narrative, Federico (played by the same actor) is a local inspector (and potential fraudster) looking to purchase the crumbling monastery – but he's hindered by the local Count, who also happens to be a vampire. As the town's secrets begin to emerge, with them so do personal grievances and rivalries between the locals.
Bellochio's film may be tricky to unpick, but so creatively arced that one can forgive it its obtuseness. The early scenes have a beautifully rich, chiaroscuro colour palate reminiscent of the works of Caravvagio, and the surreal plot has a similar richness of texture that both intrigues and disturbs. Scenes of overwhelming erotic tension amid the chastity leave us bemused, as we observe the scenes of Benadetta's increasingly brutal trials, as if over the morally dubious Federico's shoulder. Bellochio forces us to see through his protagonist's intrigued and aroused eyes, and in so doing slyly works his film under our skin, making us feel complicit in his actions.
Dryly comic and oddly captivating, Bellochio's latest surreal film is a visual treat. Bellochio's film reflects its director's ability to create sensation without patronising his audience. For fans of his work this latest film from the Italian auteur is definitely worth catching when it arrives at the London Film Festival this October.
|What||Blood of My Blood film review|
19 Regent St, London, SW1Y 4LR | MAP
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On 08 Oct 15, 12pm at Vue West End
|Price||£6.50 - £9.90|
|Website||Click here to book via the BFI LFF website|