Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Grim Reaper (1962)

*****
Italy

Opening his first film with some of the most effortlessly evocative imagery since Orson Welles' debut, Bernardo Bertolucci appears to have wasted no time in asserting that genius sense for tone and atmosphere that marked his earlier and most enduring films. In this breezy, bracing whodunnit, several lowlifes are interrogated by an invisible commissioner in relation to the dead body of a prostitute discovered in a city park at dawn. As the suspects/witnesses recount their alibis Rashomon-style, you get a strong feel for their variously relaxed though discontented lives lived at society's edges. Bertolucci's as-yet-unmarred maverick spirit permeates the picture, as does an affecting sense of mourning over the young woman's cruelly casual death.

dir: Bernardo Bertolucci
wr: Bernardo Bertolucci, Sergio Citti, Pier Paolo Pasolini
ph: Giovanni Narzisi
ed: Nino Baragli
m: Piero Piccioni, Carlo Rustichelli
cast: Carlotta Barilli, Lorenza Benedetti, Clorinda Celani, Vincenzo Ciccora, Alvaro D'Ercole, Giancarlo De Rosa, Gabriella Giorgelli

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