Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion ( in Italian, Indagine Su Un Cittadino Al Di Sopra di Ogni Sospetto) is a 1970 Italian film directed by Elio Petri and starring Gian Maria Volonte' and Florinda Bolkan. For being sharply satirical in terms of its contents, the movie was acclaimed in its country and internationally, to the point where it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film.
A high ranking police officer (Gian Maria Volonte') without an apparent reason kills his mistress in her apartment, while having sex. Around the apartment, he leaves traces and clues that would lead to him being the murderer. He leaves and calls in the police indicating the apartment, but none of them even suspect him. Soon, the nameless officer gets a big promotion, while the investigation still continues. He constantly gives clues, but no matter how big they are, nobody ever suspects him. In parallel with the story, we see the relationship he had with his mistress, as they indulged into slightly sadomasochistic behaviors. The motive of the main character is uncertain: is he testing the loyalty and credibility of the police system, or is he simply having fun?
Gian Maria Volonte' has probably never been better in a leading role: his character is nervous, aggressively authoritative, bitter, manic in his fast speech. He is one of the most terrifying and at the same time hateful characters ever put on an Italian screen. His ways and mentality are almost one of a fascist, as one of the scenes clearly expresses ( the long and passionate speech he gives to the entire police force, ending it with the phrase "Repression is Civilization"). Despite that, he proves to have an obsession with living in a Democratic society. If there had to be a scene where the character is truly a surprise, that is the ending, where he shows an unexpected soft side, as well as in other two scenes, in which he feels either helpless or heavily humiliated (this last scene is with his mistress, who taunts him and leads him to consider killing her).
Thanks to the quick pace editing of Ruggero Mastroianni (one of the top Italian editors and actor Marcello Mastroianni's brother) and Petri's shaky camera movement, the direction of the film is just as manic as its main protagonist, making the atmosphere of the movie ever so consistent and credible. Furthermore, Ennio Morricone's quirky score and Luigi Kuiveller's bright and highly chromatic cinematography help to give a nice look at interiors and the habitual domestic life in general, particularly the score, that has a reoccurring sound that is very similar to a fuzzy doorbell ringing.
But "Investigation" finds its force in its crude and sharp satire: it's a movie about the corruption of the police force, who in this case don't take their job seriously enough to truly know what is going on during the film. It's also a very faithful portrait of the tense political situation of the late sixties in Italy, more in particular concerning the conflict between socialists and democrats. All of this is told with a peculiarly dark sense of humor and a ever so slight grotesque attitude; such an adjective in fact best fits the exaggerations of the protagonist, as well as the aesthetic of the film that surrounds him.
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