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CANNES 2016 Un Certain Regard

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Pericle the Black: A bad seed who is able to redeem himself

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- CANNES 2016: Strongly backed by its protagonist Riccardo Scamarcio, who also produced with the Dardenne brothers, Stefano Mordini's film is a noir directed with sensitivity and arthouse elegance

Pericle the Black: A bad seed who is able to redeem himself
Riccardo Scamarcio in Pericle the Black

“It’s better that I don’t have thoughts”, says Pericle Scalzone, nicknamed ‘the Black’, as he tells his story in voiceover. If you do what he does, it’s best not to think too much: Pericle is the “foot soldier” of a Camorra boss, he collects debts, beats up and sodomises the pizza makers who don’t want to give their business up to Don Luigino, a criminal who has relocated to Belgium.

Pericle The Black [+see also:
trailer
interview: Stefano Mordini
film profile
]
by Stefano Mordini, which was selected for Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival 2016, is the film adaptation of the book of the same name by Giuseppe Ferrandino, which was published in 1993 and largely ignored by readers until French publisher Gallimard discovered it and published in as part of its Série noir series, making it a publishing success. In Italy it was re-published by Adelphi in 1998 and has been successful there too. It’s such a concise and edgy book, written as if it were made for film noir, that Abel Ferrara himself showed interest in making it into a film. The project was strongly backed by its protagonist Riccardo Scamarcio, who also produced it with his company Buena Onda (with Valeria Golino and Viola Prestieri), together with the Dardenne brothers and Alain Attal and with RAI Cinema, entrusting the direction to the director and screenwriter of Steel [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Stefano Mordini
film profile
]
and Smalltown, Italy. The biggest way in which the film ‘betrays’ the book is the geographical shift from Naples to Belgium, partly for obvious production reasons and above all because it wouldn’t have been easy to leave the story in Naples and still give it that universal character that the film has. The other betrayal is the language: the jeering dialect of the dialogues on paper is made into an Italian Neapolitan that can be understood by all.

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Nonetheless, the director and screenwriters Francesca Marciano (Miele [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Valeria Golino
interview: Valeria Golino
festival scope
film profile
]
) and Valia Santella (Sweet Dreams [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: Marco Bellocchio
film profile
]
) have succeeded in keeping the streams of thought of the protagonist intact, also giving him a story, a past. Pericle is an orphan in search of a family and uprooting him from his home town of Naples placed greater emphasis on his ‘stateless’ characteristic. Pericle’s angry, blank face blends in with the greyness of the Belgian city. He is a man who has remained almost a child inside, who is violent on command and considered almost an idiot, but is actually secretly very emotional. The day he makes a wrong move, accidentally striking the sister of a fellow Camorra boss, he flees to Calais (a place that is becoming an increasingly popular location for European filmmakers due to immigration) and starts coming to terms with his past and his loneliness. He meets Anastasia, a single mother with two children, played with conviction by Marina Foïs (Poliss [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Maïwenn
film profile
]
), and this gets him thinking, contemplating a future without chemical drugs, violence or porn films.

A genre film directed with sensitivity and arthouse elegance, a team effort by a group in which director of photography Matteo Cocco (Per amor vostro [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Giuseppe M Gaudino
film profile
]
, The Policeman’s Wife [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Philip Gröning
film profile
]
) plays an important role, and a protagonist (in the book he is fat and has a shaved head) on which Riccardo Scamarcio worked hard, with results that promise not to disappoint viewers. The soundtrack is also good, embellished with gems such as Two Days Later by Fink and Gimme All Your Love by the Alabama Shakes.

The film was released in Italy on 12 May by BIM, whilst international sales are being handled by Rai Com.

(Translated from Italian)

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