ACAB, Stefano Sollima’s violent and bastard riot police
by Vittoria Scarpa
Violent and bragging, supportive of each other, they honour silence and are motivated by a wavering sense of ethics which is hard to decipher. These are the police officers of the riot police depicted in ACAB - All Cops Are Bastards, the much awaited film debut of Stefano Sollima, in cinemas from January 27. A genre film, which, taken from the homonymous novel by the Repubblica journalist Carlo Bonini and based on a true story, takes the point of view of the "bastard riot police", those agents beset by the hate of the hooligans, the most incensed protesters as well as the suspicion of citizens, due to their frequent promotion of an unscrupulous use of force and of the baton.
And it is precisely on the subtle boundary between legitimate defense and gratuitous violence that the film is suspended. It seemingly avoids taking a position one way or the other as it follows the three main characters, the Cobra agents, Negro and Mazinga (Pierfrancesco Favino, Filippo Nigro and Marco Giallini) from fights in the stadium, to clearing out gypsy camps and squatted houses, and settling of scores, alternating these with more intimate moments and private, sometimes, dramatic, affairs. Leaving us with the final impression that violence is the simple answer to violence, according to a logic of compression / explosion. Even though the reality, is, as we know, much more complex.
"It is a story about men, an account of the hate that pervades the society in which live", such is Sollima’s statement of intent. He is already the director of the cult TV series, Romanzo criminale, and is at ease with representing a slightly pop version of violence, supported by a background of urgent rock music and by a realistic visual style, with the use of intense close-ups and brisk camera movements in a very accentuated physical dimension. It is a film which, in the run-up to seeing Daniele Vicari’s Diaz [+see also:
film profile] at the next Berlin Film Festival (see the news), is destined to generate debate because the main characters are the survivors of that tragic G8 in Genoa, which here is only hinted at, and for which the agents seem to admit their responsibilities. While more recent grave Italian news stories are re-echoed on the screen, from the murder of the inspector Filippo Raciti to the death of the football fan Gabriele Sandri: equally as many nerves exposed.
(Translated from Italian)