DRAMA; 1hr 43min (Italian with subtitles)
STARRING: Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce
Marcello (Fonte) is a humble Italian dog groomer and sitter in a wasteland waterfront neighbourhood. A devoted single father, he nurses a soft spot for canines giant and tiny along with a tidy sideline in cocaine supply to those in the know. Regrettably for him, one of them (Pesce as Simone) is a widely despised, bullheaded lunk to whom coke is life and lashing out is as natural as hoovering it up.
For his part, Marcello is an essentially good man, which helps him not at all when the walls start closing in. Weedy, woebegone and apparently all but devoid of will, he’s a sitting duck as Simone’s gofer and patsy—such a top-tier patsy, in fact, that he takes the fall for a crime he weakly enables Simone to commit, thereby alienating his circle of unappealing friends and ruining what passes for the rest of his miserable existence.
If Marcello’s perversely riveting downer of story comes with any sort of moral, it’s that every patsy has a breaking point. That’s not much of a moral, admittedly, but then, delivered as it is in damped-down shades of soulless by Gomorra director Matteo Garrone (who based it, loosely, on 30-year-old events), Marcello doesn’t have much of a life. Yet he struggles to rally with pitiful stubbornness. Defying his drab parameters, he dotes on his affectionate young daughter (Alida Baldari Calabria), quietly refusing to admit defeat while plotting a twisted, redemptive payback on the man who brought him down. The meek were never destined to inherit this sad patch of earth. But with Fonte wringing every drop from the loss of it, Marcello’s will to prevail is a terrible and a laudable thing.