Sunday 24 September 2017


Pasolini No Cert

Lovingly crafted: Pasolini is well researched but ultimately hard to grasp
Lovingly crafted: Pasolini is well researched but ultimately hard to grasp

Pier Paolo Pasolini is one of the less well-known Italian film-makers of his generation but the provocateur, poet, writer and director is revered in certain circles. Director Abel Ferrara is clearly one of these admirers, and in this film he recreates the last day of Pasolini's life, casting Willem Dafoe in the title role. It's a great piece of casting, however the film doesn't bring Pasolini to a broader audience but instead caters to those who know something about him already.

The opening scenes show Pasolini being interviewed in French - about his film Salo or 120 Days of Sodom, which caused a huge furore - and feature a young man fellating a group of young men. It moves on to Pasolini waking at home in Rome where he lives with his mother (Adriana Asti). Amongst scenes of their daily life, work with his assistant, lunch, visitors, another interview, the voiceover is a letter about a novel, Petrolio, that he is in the process of writing.

He decides to make another film and has dinner with a young actor and his wife and baby to discuss this project. Pasolini himself never got to make the movie and Ferrara creates a version of it for his film, it stars Ninetto Davoli, frequent Pasolini collaborator, and these scenes are intercut with the rest of the film. Meanwhile Pasolini's own life moves inexorably towards its violent end, one which has been disputed, one which Ferrara has said he knows the truth about but the mystery around it is not presented at all in the film.

There is a lot going on, some in English, some in Italian, some of that subtitled and some not. It is difficult for anyone unfamiliar with Pasolini to keep track and to appreciate all of the details in what is undoubtedly a lovingly researched but ultimately hard-to-grasp homage.


Now at IFI & selected cinemas

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