Film Review: Black Souls – “visceral and vital”

By January 12, 2016

Film, TV & Tech. Bradford.

©francesca casciarri/Calias

©francesca casciarri/Calias

Black Souls is by no means your typical Mafia movie. It is mainly set in remote Calabria where old ways, rituals and customs are still adhered to. It is a nostalgic world before the loss of innocence. Vladon Radovic’s cinematography is naturalistic and candid allowing the camera to simply rest on facial emotions. The tone is somber and reflective and rather than glorifying violence it prefers to study it.

So we see Luigi (Marco Leonardi) as a major drugs dealer with sidekick Rocco (Peppino Mazzotta) brought back to Calabria from Milan to deal with the mess caused by Leo (Guiseppe Fumo), a petty criminal who brings the walls of the family house crashing down with his idiocy. Leo basically idolises his brothers and feels left out assisting his father Luciano (Fabrizio Ferracane) as a goatherd.

©francesca casciarri/Calias

©francesca casciarri/Calias

The ensemble acting throughout is given verve and veracity creating an intense tension, a bubble about to burst. What starts as a minor disagreement between rival criminal factions becomes all-out war and the violence is filmed with an unromanticised but almost lyrical flair. The film really reveals another side to the gangster world that is not always seen in the American-produced epics. Here the violence is humanised rather than simply demonised and the plot reveals itself with subtle skill rather than bombast fast-action fury.

So Francesoco Manzi has created a new slant on an old story with his incisive direction and masterful mise en scene that makes the piece as visually compulsive as it is visceral and vital in terms of emotions.

Reviewed by Rich Jevons. Showing at National Media Museum, Bradford and City Screen York on 12 January 2016, see for showings near you.