Review: A mano disarmata
by Camillo De Marco
- Claudio Bonivento’s film starring Claudia Gerini tells of the battle fought against organised criminal gangs in Ostia by a journalist who’s now under permanent police protection
In a Mafioso landscape seemingly inspired by the Middle Earth of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the police operation nicknamed “Mondo di mezzo/Middle World” revealed Rome to be in the hands of “four (criminal) kings” who had been conducting their affairs in all impunity through the complicity of the police and the public authorities. Wars over illicit drug markets, executions, protection rackets sustained by way of arson attacks on shops, bid rigging, the buying and selling of councillors and conspirators, money laundered in the most elegant restaurants and boutiques of the city... Extending across the capital from the Ostia coastline, the reach of these Mafiosi methods was brought to light by the investigations carried out by prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone alongside specialised police officers, and far earlier so by those of certain journalists. Standing tall amongst these reporters is the courageous Federica Angeli who testified to the growth of Rome as the “Mafia Capital” across hundreds of articles published in the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. A mano disarmata [+see also:
film profile], directed by Claudio Bonivento, tells of the fight initiated against organised gangs in 2013 by a columnist who has been placed under permanent police protection since giving evidence against them in court.
Based on the homonymous book written by the journalist and adapted for the big screen by Domitilla Shula Di Pietro, in collaboration with the very same Angeli, A mano disarmata tracks the convulsive stages of a journey marked by fear and often desperation, but mitigated by the unrivalled determination and tenacity of the protagonist and her search for the truth. Claudia Gerini lends her face to the protagonist with conviction, capturing the subtlest nuances of Angeli’s expressions. “I can’t not say anything” the latter decides after realising the extent to which her city is trapped in the jaws of the racket and having personally witnessed incidents involving ferocious levels of intimidation. When the gangs led by Calogero Costa (Mirko Frezza) begin to threaten her, her instinct as a mother of three and a wife (to Francesco Venditti) - which never leaves her, in spite of it all - is to run away, to give up the fight. “I’m stunned. I’m still struggling to understand the type of world that I’ve fallen into”, the journalist confesses to her mother as she takes stock of the multifaceted enemy she’s up against, an enemy which also makes use of a more subtle form of weaponry, even managing to create an artificial anti-Mafia community in Ostia - half a dozen bloggers whose long-term objective is to slander and discredit Federica.
A mano disarmata ends with the trial of the gangs, which began on 6 June 2018, exactly one year ahead of the film’s release. The directorial approach adopted by Bonivento, who has long experience as a producer, first and foremost, isn’t entirely memorable, but the social drive of the film works to conceal its shortcomings.
A mano disarmata, which was awarded the “Nastro della legalità” (Ribbon of Justice) by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, is produced by Laser Digital in association with RAI Cinema and will be distributed across 220 Italian cinemas by Eagle Pictures.
(Translated from Italian)
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