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Saturday 30 August 2014

Film review: Salvo

Cert: 12A

Published 24/03/2014 | 02:30

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Sara Serraiocco in Salvo

BEAUTY and the Beast gets muddled with a dash of Terminator and sieved through a sun-scorched Sicily in this mute and moody crime drama from Italian debutante duo, Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza.

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Often, it's not the plot but how it's told, and this Critics' Week Grand Prix winner at Cannes 2013 is such an instance. In a nutshell, Salvo, a vampiric mafia hitman, is forced to locate his long-dormant heart when he adopts the blind daughter of a rival boss he's after bumping off. Playing the titular assassin and the teenage Rita are Saleh Bakri and Sara Serraiocco (inset), he of dark steel and she possessed of a fragile but spirited beauty that all but disarms him. A bond unsurprisingly develops as the pair find themselves in the same boat.

He keeps her confined in safe but austere conditions at a disused factory on the outskirts of Palermo, leaving his Spartan bedsit to drive through the sweltering heat and try to tend to her. Under strict instructions to kill the whole family, Salvo now has to look over his shoulder to make sure his boss (an arch Mario Pupella) doesn't discover his secret.

Grassadonia and Piazza make excellent use of what's in front of them – the region's rundown appearance, the omnipresent, sleep-depriving heat and siesta-hour emptiness. There's even a Western stand-off, an unexpected set piece which, along with nuances in framing, cinematography, cast direction and sound design, suggest this filmmaking duo are worth keeping an eye on.

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