Anime nere (Black souls)

An intense family drama against the background of the ‘Ndrangheta, Anime nere plays out as a Greek tragedy and culminates in a powerful and unexpected climax.

(details below)

Apparently the ‘Ndrangheta is currently the most powerful criminal organisation in the world, but most of the people we see here are still close to their original shepherd culture. They may be big international criminals, but they still live in a world ruled by ancient tradition and such concepts as honour, respect and family loyalty. The heavy, tradition-drenched atmosphere of southern Italy is beautifully portrayed. Everyone wears black most of the time (and not only for funerals), and we frequently see the old women mumbling prayers around the coffin of the latest victim of what is regarded as an inevitable fate.

It was only the day after I’d seen the film that it occurred to me how many similarities it had with
Leviafan (Leviathan), which I saw last week. Both films provide a dark and pessimistic view of a world ruled by corruption, in which the normal guy who just wants to live his life has no chance against the forces of evil, and inevitably ends up as a victim. Although the role of the church was much smaller here, both films also made it very clear that Christianity (or, to be fair, the Catholic c.q. Russian Orthodox church), cannot offer a solution, but rather tend to be part of the problem: when they aren’t actively profiting from the corruption then they’re at least giving criminals the comforting reassurance that they’re a normal part of society. It’s an interesting thought that Italy, theoretically the most Catholic country in the world, is home to some of the world’s most powerful criminal organisations…

For me this was an interesting look into an alien world, and I think a realistic one. Definitely an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, but did this film tell me anything new about the human condition? Not really. Seen as cinematographic art it was more than competent, it was very good even, but on the other hand it wasn’t really original or particularly interesting: it was basically a piece of pretty straightforward storytelling, but very well made and with some good acting. In short, a good film, but not one I’ll remember for the rest of my life.



title Anime nere (Black souls)
director Francesco Munzi
released 2014
language Italiano
subtitles français
seen 01/02/2015, at the cinema
further information IMDb


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