By William Wolf

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2014--PASOLINI  Send This Review to a Friend

Director Abel Ferrara, who can be counted on for an unusual take on whatever subject he chooses to make a film about, now has given us “Pasolini,” a fictional inquiry into the life and fate of the formidable Italian film director. The drama was shown at the 2014 New York Film Festival. Pasolini’s films stirred widespread comments because of their daring, as was the case with his “Saló, or the 120 Days of Sodom.”

Willem Dafoe has been cast as the late director, and he handles the role in keeping with the mystique that permeates the film and meshes with what we know about Pasolini. Ferrara focuses on the last day of his life, leading up to his murder in 1975.

The screenplay by Maurizio Braucci dramatizes the brutal end when a gang attacks Pasolini during one of his escapades when he would pick up men for sex. The ferocity of the sequence is not only shockingly sad with respect to Pasolini himself, but the killing robbed the world of the creative work that might have come from him in the future.

In the course of the film we listen to Dafoe as Pasolini pontificate about different ideas and values. We see the time he spends with his mother, who is left bereft at the news of what has happened. Ferrara succeeds in giving us a portrait of this unusual artist, underscoring the loss in the chilling murder scene. While all the facts are not known about the crime, the film gives plausibility to the event as depicted.

“Pasolini” is an important tribute to one of Italy’s important post-World War II directors, who broke new ground exploring extreme erotica in cinema. The supporting cast includes Ninetta Davoli, Riccardo Scarmacio, Valerio Mastandrea, Adrianna Asti and Maria de Medeiros. Reviewed October 20, 2014.


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