Marco Bellocchio’s new film recounts the events surrounding the 1978 assassination of Italy’s Aldo Moro (Roberto Herlitzka) through the eyes of one of his kidnappers, ex-Red Brigates member Anna Laura Braghetti (Maya Sansa). The film is based on Braghetti and journalist Paola Tavella’s book Il Prigioniero (The Prisoner), though the title of the film is a reference to a contradictory verse in one of Emily Dickinson’s poems. Bellocchio wonderfully evokes the mechanisms Aldo’s kidnappers must engage in order to keep the president’s hideout a secret from the outside world, and he generates a considerable amount of suspense from watching the gang of four negotiate the various unexpected visits made by an upstairs neighbor, a burglar, and a local priest. But similar to My Mother’s Smile (part of last year’s New York Film Festival), Good Morning, Night shows off the director’s lukewarm debating skills. Anna’s emotional conflictions are frequently short-changed by Bellocchio’s dubious decision to frequently cut away to footage from various television programs, news reports, and movies from the era. This all gives the viewer an idea of what was going on in the country at the time but doesn’t necessarily shed any light on the moral predicament of the film’s characters, whose weepiest moments are set to even weepier Italian arias. A self-reflexive scene between Anna and an employee at the library she works at serves to contextualize the film’s title but Bellocchio isn’t strong enough a visualist for this meta moment to truly mesh with its realist surroundings. Instead, it comes across as a question-and-answer drill-session-cum-press-conference for the film. Even worse are the metaphorical birds in the film. “The canaries flew away,” mutters one kidnapper, ludicrously pointing to Moro’s inability to actually leave his own cage. One mitigating factor: the film’s final minutes daringly juxtapose images of papal pomp and circumstance with a haunting evocation of Moro’s passage into the spirit world.
- 106 min
- Marco Bellocchio
- Marco Bellocchio
- Maya Sansa, Luigi Lo Cascio, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio, Giovanni Calcagno, Paolo Briguglia, Roberto Herlitzka
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