SALVO wastes no time in getting down to the gritty business of assassination. Hit man Saleh Bakri (Salvo) kills his rival, Renato, in the stunning opening of this action thriller which then rams on the breaks and becomes a slow-burning story of redemption (five years in the making). The scorching Sicilian heat permeates every frame of Grassadonia and Piazza’s intense debut that turns its attention to the dead man’s visually-challenged sister, Rita (Sara Serraiocco), who is quietly awaiting his return at home.
Daniele Cipri (It Was the Son) is behind the lens of an exquisitely-executed long-take, ratcheting up the tension as it watches Rita going about her duties inside the darkened house as Salvo breaks in and tracks her down. Holding her hostage in a disused lock-up, he transforms her life into a bewildering nightmare of vaguely moving shapes. Has the trauma caused to her to regain sight or did she simply have extremely poor vision?: this is sadly unclear but Salvo becomes obsessed with his helpless captive gradually mending his former ways, as if out of respect for suffering. In a quirky twist, he also becomes the focus of an eccentric couple (Giuditta Perriera and Luigi Lo Cascio) who give him board and lodging in a seedy side of town, injecting texture and offbeat humour.
With a judicious use of silence and limited dialogue, SALVO has some clever ideas and a brilliant starting point, but the narrative flatlines in the second half and never really peaks again despite some interesting twists and turns. Bakri is superb as Salvo, a criminal with a fascinating modus operandi, and Daniele Cipri’s cinematography is a joy to behold. MT
SALVO IS ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM FRIDAY 21 MARCH 2014 THROUGH PECCADILLO PICTURES.
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