L’Intrusa (The Intruder)
Director Leonardo Di Constanzo offers Naples as the setting for this dose of admirable and clinical social realism. Renowned for its mafia ties – the locals often joke about the city’s criminal reputation – Neapolitan Italy is depicted here as flat, destitute and lacking colour. The slaloming cobbled streets and bustling pizzerias are kept out of sight. Instead, the film presents us with a community centre for underprivileged children founded and run by the firm, kind-hearted Giovanna (a controlled performance from Raffaella Giordano).
Giovanna’s haven is a bastion for the local area. Mothers revel in the opportunity to send their kids somewhere productive; misfits are able to integrate into social life by pulling shifts for the organisation. It’s not particularly pretty and the people remain sufficiently poor, but this is a stable and appealing side to Naples rarely perceived from the outside. Activities, arts and sports keep the children preoccupied. A bike shop proves popular and from the remnants of old cycles the group endeavour to create a quite monstrous, hat-tipping machine called Mr Jones. He will be the centrepiece of the upcoming party. The complication occurs when Giovanna unknowingly lets out the spare outbuilding to a Camorra (the Neapolitan mafia) mother and child, Maria (Valentina Vannino) and Rita (Martina Abbate). When the shady father is arrested for a gang murder, Giovanna is pressured to evict the pair by parents, school authorities and even her housekeeper. But Rita starts participating with the other children in the festivities and Maria clearly needs support, leaving Giovanna with an unfortunate dilemma. Her common principles must face up to the disquiet her decisions have created.
The mother Maria is a fascinating character: proud and ungrateful, her actions appear obscene and transgressive. How can someone seem so unforgiving to such charity? It’s unfortunate the end arrives so abruptly and that Maria and Rita’s predicament is dismissed with no moment of crisis or reconciliation. We are left instead with an image of the robotic head, a combination of chain and metal, and feel somewhat short-changed by a plain, unadorned picture that has offered little resolution. It felt like this film had more to give, so perhaps budgetary constraints were an issue. Less an intrusion and more a fleeting visit.
L’Intrusa (The Intruder) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch a clip from L’Intrusa (The Intruder) here: