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article imageReview: ‘Black Souls’ understands and resists its traditions Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 10, 2015 in Entertainment
‘Black Souls’ is an old school, Italian mafia movie reminiscent of ‘The Godfather’ in its understated tone and approach.
Over the years depictions of the mafia have been centred in America, practically celebrating the notoriety achieved by local crime bosses. In spite of the death and destruction involved, the lifestyle is glamorized. Few films, however, have returned to the old country where it all started and where rivalries span generations. Black Souls tells the story of a mob family in Italy, but surprises audiences by not following the traditional narrative path.
Luciano, Luigi and Rocco (Fabrizio Ferracane, Marco Leonardi and Peppino Mazzotta respectively) are brothers. However, in spite of being the eldest, Luciano wants nothing to do with “the family business.” His son, Leo (Giuseppe Fumo), on the other hand, idolizes his uncles and is eager to prove he has what it takes to join them in Milan, far away from his father’s goat farm. Even though Luigi and Rocco operate out of the big city, occurrences in their small home town produce a ripple effect that eventually touches their dealings. A brief return home has significant repercussions that the family may never be able to overcome.
The first half of the film is reminiscent of the gangster films with which viewers are accustomed. Luigi has recently “returned” from what is presumably a jail sentence and immediately takes charge of the face-to-face aspects of the family’s drug dealing business. Rocco is shown to live in a luxurious home with a stylish wife, delegating the nitty-gritty tasks that fund his affluent lifestyle. Their power is understood and people seek “favours” in recognition of their influence in local matters. In contrast, Luciano is content caring for his goats and living in a deteriorating house in the country. Many significant events also occur off-camera and are merely alluded to in conversation, such as Luigi’s absence or the insults Leo believes deserves a response.
Later in the film, the brothers experience a series of fatal blows to their authority. They are targeted, betrayed and forsaken in their time of greatest need. Though these elements still fall in the realm of the conventional gangster narrative, the final moments of the film are a game-changer. After all that takes place and based on customary responses to similar situations, the viewer may believe they know how the film will end. However, in an instant, filmmakers reject time-honoured tradition for a more shocking, visceral and still appropriate conclusion.
This movie recaptures some of the brilliance and intrigue of the Italian mob that made The Godfather trilogy so appealing.
Director: Francesco Munzi
Starring: Marco Leonardi, Peppino Mazzotta and Fabrizio Ferracane
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