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VENICE 2020 International Film Critics’ Week

Review: Thou Shalt Not Hate

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- VENICE 2020: Mauro Mancini’s feature film debut tells a simple but engaging story, with Alessandro Gassmann heading up the cast

Review: Thou Shalt Not Hate
Alessandro Gassmann (left) in Thou Shalt Not Hate

Presented in competition in Venice’s International Film Critics’ Week and the only Italian title in this year’s selection, Thou Shalt Not Hate [+see also:
trailer
interview: Mauro Mancini
film profile
]
is Mauro Mancini’s first full-length film. Before writing and directing this film, the filmmaker made his debut in 2005 with the short film Our Secret and went on to work on other shorts, as well as in the TV and advertising arenas.

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Written by Mancini alongside Davide Lisino, the film is set in north-eastern Italy and opens with a scene where we see the protagonist Simone Segre as a child, forced by his father (Cosimo Fusco) to choose which kitten he wants to survive before drowning the remainder of the litter. Next, we see Simone as an adult (Alessandro Gassmann), now a well-known surgeon, intent on canoeing along a river. At the sound of a car accident, he abandons the boat and immediately offers his help. Finding a man who’s been seriously injured while driving, our doctor contacts the emergency services, tries to calm the man down and fashions a tourniquet out of a seat belt. But there’s one small detail which sends a shiver down his spine: the man has a swastika tattoo on his chest. Mindful of his father’s experiences as a Jewish concentration camp survivor, Segre loosens the tourniquet and flees the scene, leaving the man to his fate.

Generally speaking, the film follows a somewhat linear narrative structure and the story goes on to show Segre’s full awareness of the irreparable damage he’s caused to the family of this man Mr Minervini who has fathered three children: Marica (Sara Serraiocco), definitely the most sensible and responsible of the siblings, Marcello (Luka Zunic), a neo-Nazi like his dad and highly aggressive and quick tempered, and the youngest of the three Paolo (Lorenzo Buonora). Driven by remorse, Segre tries to get close to the family, dismissing his cleaning lady and entrusting the housekeeping to Marica, who’s now desperately in search of money to make ends meet.

Gassman’s performance is highly convincing. The actor paints the portrait of a surly, taciturn man, beaten up and dissatisfied, despite the prestigious position he occupies within his organisation. Young Zunic’s acting is also well worth a mention, successfully lending just the right level of depth to a complex character, rather than falling into the easy trap of stereotypes and delivering a monochrome performance. The technical department is also deserving of praise, especially Pivio and Aldo De Salzi whose music is the perfect vehicle for Segre’s anxiety.

It’s a promising debut for Mancini: despite its simplicity, the story is engaging, and it all ends in pleasingly organic fashion. All that remains now is for the audience to uncover how.

Thou Shalt Not Hate is an Italian-Polish co-production courtesy of Movimento Film (Italy) and Agresywna Banda (Poland), together with RAI Cinema and in association with Notorious Pictures. The feature film enjoys the support of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, the Polish Film Institute and the Lazio Region. Scheduled for 10 September, distribution in Italy is entrusted to Notorious Pictures, while international sales are in the hands of Intramovies.

(Translated from Italian)

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