13Mar12 – 7 – Roberto Succo (Cédric Kahn: 2001)
Who doesn’t love a great policier? Painstaking police work, random clues mixed with dead ends with some hunches thrown in, breakthrough insights, what’s not to love? And psychological thrillers about a serial killer on a crime spree are great too, don’t you think? Put the two together and you’ve got a great film. Well, ROBERTO SUCCO (2001) starts out like that but then…it just keeps going and going until it ends two hours later.
It’s chilling to think that this film about an Italian psychopathic murderer (he killed both his parents and was institutionalized but escaped) on the loose in France and Switzerland is based on a true story. And it’s commendable that the film doesn’t give us easy answers about why “Kurt”/”André” is the way he is. He *says* that his father was a cop and his mother was strict, but lots of people have parents like that and they don’t carjack, break into people’s homes, rape, and kill for no apparent reason, but it’s OK that there are no real answers given. (Who knows why he’s impotent, though.) And the police are seen collecting clues, making a composite drawing, discovering who the killer is, but it’s not a tense piecing together of the evidence, there are no “ah hah!” moments. The evidence is calmly, patiently collected. The screenplay just doesn’t build toward anything, and while the directing isn’t as slack as the writing, it’s not taut, either.
So why watch? The performances. Stefano Cassetti gives a knockout performance as the title character who’s just goodlooking, charismatic, and sexy enough that you’d sort of overlook the fact that he’s stark raving nuts. He’ll even tell you as much. Patrick Dell’Isola is also excellent as the lead detective on his case who’s got a back story in there that we intuit rather than really know anything about. And I loved Viviana Aliberti as the Swiss school teacher he carjacks who explains that she isn’t freaking out and she didn’t faint when he stuck a gun to her head and made her drive because she’s used to dealing with kids. And the Carol Ann Fugate wannabe, Léa? Isild le Besco was probably really good, but I grew really impatient with her really fast, and her resemblance to Jacques Pepin’s shlumpy daughter Claudine didn’t help.
The version I saw on the ‘tubes was 120 minutes but I noticed on IMDb that the theatrical release was 124 minutes. Those 4 minutes must be jampacked since there are quite a number of plot holes (including one giant one) that could easily take up more time than that. Oh, it’s not important, but the soundtrack consists of a few songs, the most prominent of which are “Rock Your Baby” by George McRae (a huge hit in 1974, the year I graduated high school) during a scene in a bar/disco, and Marianne Faithfull’s “Sleep”, which is played during the film and under the final credits; it came out in 1995. The actual events of the film were in 1986 and 1987. When does this movie take place? If I knew anything about cars I could probably date the film more precisely, but still it’s kind of disconcerting. Add an extra point for the acting. 6/10. [3/13/12]