Dir: Roberto Ando | Cast: Toni Servillo, Daniel Auteuil, Pierfrancesco Favino, Moritz Bleibtreu, Connie Nielsen, Mari-Josee Croze, Lambert Wilson, Richard Sammel, Johan Heldenbergh, Togo Igawa | 103min | Thriller | Italy
Toni Servillo and Daniel Auteuil star in Roberto Ando’s slick and timely political thriller that follows the exploits of a savvy monk who attempts to outmanoeuvre the European delegates at a fictional G8 summit.
Sadly lacking the delicious dark humour of Ando’s breakthrough Viva la Liberta that screened during last year’s festival, this is an intelligent and self-assured affair occasionally spiced with irony and graced with a starry international arthouse cast including Connie Nielsen, Lambert Wilson and Moritz Bleibtreu.
Invited to the IMF summit by one of the other delegates – from countries that represent 50% of the World’s wealth – Roberto Salus, a monk and writer, adds a touch of calm integrity but also a twist of tension to the top secret Monetary Fund get together in his chaste alabaster garb and sincere gaze that contrasts amusingly with the less than trustworthy-looking official attendees (particularly Bleibtrau’s Mark Klein) gathered together in the secluded spendour of a luxury German resort. Two other ousiders are also there to monitor the talks: a musician, and Connie Nielsen’s glamorous author of children’s books, complete the trio.
Auteuil plays the strung out, suicidal master of ceremonies, Daniel Roche, who has summoned the Monk to hear his confession before he pops his clogs, to the annoyance and suspicion of the assembled crew and who wonder what was said by Roche to Salus in his final hour, and whether he alluded to their secret scheme to bankrupt the world’s poorer economies. His tête à têtes with the monk unfold in flashback adding a frisson of insight as the political narrative progresses.
Although there are overtones that something greater and more powerful may be at work here, Ando and co-scripter Angelo Pasquini fail to develop this supernatrual strand to the film’s slight detriment making the political story less resonant than it could have been. That said, LE CONFESSIONI remains an intriguing and enjoyable watch, largely due to the strength of its performances – particularly from Toni Servillo – Maurizio Calvesi’s arresting cinematography and Nicola Piovani’s atmospheric and stately occasional score. MT
CINEMA MADE IN ITALY 1-5 MARCH 2017