La bocca del lupo | The Wolf’s Mouth [doc] [2009]

La bocca del lupo - Motta&Monaco-0028/10 | 21.Feb.13
La bocca del lupo | The Wolf’s Mouth

DIRECTOR: Pietro Marcello | WRITER: Pietro Marcello | CAST: Vincenzo Motta, Mary Monaco, Franco Leo (narrator) | Italy

I watched La bocca del lupo on a whim, not really knowing what it was about beyond the one-line blurb I read that it was a documentary set in Genoa and dealt with the romance between an ex-con career criminal and his great love, an ex-junkie transsexual. It is that, certainly, but I wasn’t prepared for such a beautifully composed and sustained meditation on love, time’s passing, permanence and impermanence. The movie is actually a double portrait: of once majestic Genoa in general but the decrepit waterfront in particular, and of Enzo and Mary. Using archival footage, staged recreations, and straight-ahead interviews, director Pietro Marcello weaves Enzo and Mary’s story through a look at the changing fortunes of Genoa and some of its forgotten inhabitants over the past century. I found the movie absolutely compelling, due in no small part to Marcello’s decision to let the sometimes achingly beautiful visuals and words speak for themselves. And that they do in a way that no overt editorializing ever could. I was reminded quite a bit of Terence Davies’ movies, but Marcello is never ponderous, nor does he tip over into preciosity or sentimentality. (The title of the movie is taken from Remigio Zena’s 1892 novel of the same name which I gather from Italian Wikiversity is a verismo novel about the disenfranchised living in the same waterfront neighborhood that Enzo and Mary live in.)

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