Friday 10th October, 6.30pm – Odeon West End, Screen 1
Saturday 11th October, 9pm – Ritzy
Monday 13th October, 12.45pm – BFI Southbank, NFT1
Pier Paolo Pasolini was a man who seemingly relished the controversial and thrived on the taboo, a man who some considered to have enough creative talent to considered as an alternative Shakespeare. Others thought of him as nothing more than a tasteless attention seeker. The Italian’s life was just as action-filled, and Abel Ferrara, not shy of creating his own controversial art, took on the daunting task of directing a new film depicting the end of the artist’s final days during the completion of his infamous film 120 Days of Sodom.
The most immediately striking aspect of the film is the casting of Willem Dafoe as Pasolini; Dafoe certainly has that dark sinister troubled look that he effortlessly brings to the silver screen. The film is split between elements of reality in Pasolini’s life and more metaphorical explorations of the artist’s creative thinking in an abstract fashion that attempts to keep the audience’s sense of consciousness skewed. This results in juxtaposing images where a story can jump from a mythical parable to a mundane scene in a living room drinking tea. The flow of the plot is therefore a complex issue that doesn’t fully get resolved or thoroughly explored.
As you would expect the film does not shy away from Pasolini’s more taboo busting work and has a fixation on the more sexual side of his life and work, continuously depicting graphic sexual imagery, not dissimilar to that of Ferrara’s previous piece Welcome to New York. The final act is also an unapologetic blitz of action and tragedy as the film is brought to an abrupt end, in keeping with the tone of the rest of the drama.
In a sense Ferrara achieves a suitably brutal and abstract homage to the Italian artist and Dafoe is a seemingly perfect lead as he delivers an intimidatingly profound performance, especially in the interviewing scenes. Despite these intriguing factors the film is a victim of its own hauntingly abstract tone and rarely manages to sustain audience’s interest in larger parts.
Pasolini is released in the UK on 10th October 2014.
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Watch the trailer for Pasolini here: