Apr 23, 2011

A Quiet Life

A disappointing Italian noirish thriller with the great Toni Servillo as a man who has escaped a former criminal life and his past comes back to haunt him. This movie could be an American remake, and in more competent hands it could actually be an improvement over the original, because the story is pretty good. Yet there are several enormous holes of logic in the plot that makes it hard to believe.
The movie is interesting as a family story and as the opportunity to see someone who has had a chance to restart a completely new life and what happens when his old life comes back to him in spades: the classic, "you can't run away from your past" idea. It's about blood ties and children repeating their parents' mistakes. Servillo is fine but underused as Rosario, an Italian innkeeper living in Germany, leading a quiet life. His German wife, played by Juliane Kohler, (A Woman in Berlin, Eva Braun in Downfall), is inexplicably unlikeable and underwritten. And the other main characters, two young Italian hoods that come to pay Rosario a visit, although good actors, are not very interesting characters. Matter of factness is an element of style in noir, but character and motivation need to be strongly established. The hardboiled cannot be confused with undercooked material. The direction and the writing are rather blunt and uninspired. There are many missed opportunities to make the relationships between the characters much more resonant. And for a movie that is firmly rooted in the reality of Europe and Italy today, then there are some very silly plot points. A frustrating film.

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