Il Pataffio (2022) Locarno Film Festival

August 6th, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Francesco Lagi; Lino Musella, Viviana Cangiano, Giorgio Tirabassi, Giovanni Ludeno, Vincenzo Nemolato, Allesandro Gassmann, Valerio Mastandrea, Italy 2022, 117 min.

When Francesco Lagi took on Luigi Malerba’s 1978 novel he clearly had ambitions for a  screen epic along the lines of Branca Leone by the great, late Mario Monicelli. But in trying to sex up this historical fable, all we get is coarse gags and rambunctiousness in a protracted medieval adventure that lacks the master’s irony and finesse.

Marconte Berlocchio (Musella) and his motley group of courtiers really have their work cut out in taking possession of the remote fiefdom of Tripleball handed to him by the King, and the father of his new bride Bernarda (Cangiano). After a long uphill struggle Berlocchio soon realises they have reached Castlebad rather than Tripleball, far away on the other side of the mountain range.

But the nightmare continues in Tripleball: the castle is in ruins; the villagers are nowhere to be seen; and worst of all – the farm stock and horses have made off with all the food. To add to his woes, Bernarda is pressurising him to consummate the marriage, and while Frate Cappucio (Gassmann) tries to placate her, she turns to one of his monks – with disastrous results.

Meanwhile Berlocchio leads his troops into a battle against the enemies of Castlebad, but they are routed and he eventually finds himself face to face with the King who has come to claim back his property. There are naturally twists and turns in this flawed and drawn out narrative but to reveal them would spoil all the ‘fun’. DoP’s Diego Romero Suarez Llanos’ hyper realistic images are often far too provocative for the historical fable in a feature that would have Malerba turning in his grave. AS


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