Giovanni è un giovane contattato da una casa editrice cattolica per pubblicizzare, con il suo volto, un libro sulla vita di Cristo. Francesca è una misteriosa ragazza che incontra sulla ... See full summary »
Giovanni è un giovane contattato da una casa editrice cattolica per pubblicizzare, con il suo volto, un libro sulla vita di Cristo. Francesca è una misteriosa ragazza che incontra sulla strada e che è ricercata dalla polizia. Partono insieme, ma i loro guai spariranno con loro ? Written by
The late film-maker Luigi Comencini is one of several Italian masters of cinema whose international reputation has long been unjustly overshadowed by that of his less traditional contemporaries; thankfully, living in an island so closely situated to the Italian peninsula has ensured my familiarity and appreciation of such mostly undiscovered gems like the moving WWII partisan drama EVERYBODY GO HOME (1960), the highly enjoyable spy spoof Italian SECRET SERVICE (1968), the blackly humorous domestic pastiche THE CAT (1977) and the star-studded road-movie/satire TRAFFIC JAM (1979). The film under review is practically in that same high league, a biting look at the Catholic Church's often misguided attempts at bringing its outmoded message to a largely indifferent audience. In this context, it is important to note the presence here of co-screenwriter Antonio Ricci (later the creator of a satirical TV news program that has been transmitted daily on Italian TV for the last 23 years!) and lead actor Beppe Grillo (who has become one of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's most outspoken critics).
Actually, Grillo (playing a hitch-hiker literally picked up by the Catholic Church to be "the face of Christ" in a serialized, updated retelling of the life of our Savior!) only ever appeared in 3 films and he even won 2 best actor awards for this, his film debut; significantly, given the religious nature of the work in question, the actor had just been found guilty of manslaughter for a car accident he was involved in where his three passengers lost their lives! His co-stars in the film were French actress Maria Schneider (as a middle-class terrorist!) and Spaniard Fernando Rey (as the Monsignor spearheading the campaign); interestingly, these two had already worked together briefly on Luis Bunuel's swan-song THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (1977) before Schneider was legendarily replaced by 2 actresses!
Also featured in the cast are Alexandra Stewart (as Schneider's clueless mother), Nestor Garay (as an amiable, fat and "insignificant" priest who is made Grillo's guardian) and Meme Perlini (as a lean, shady and "untrustworthy" priest). Grillo's innocent roaming away from the Church's custody brings him in contact with a carpenter who offers him shelter, a job as a night watchman and, later, makes wooden Christ statues with Grillo's face plastered on them!; an unrepentant junkie (whom Grillo helps financially but she merely spends it on dope and offers him her body in return!) and her violent family; a wheelchair-bound boy who, eventually, is the protagonist of a predictable (but nevertheless effective) 'miraculous' finale; hilariously, a handful of autograph hunters to which he helpfully offers to provide also with that of St. Peter's (since he acts as his lawful attorney!) and a band of door-to-door scavenger-thieves and, memorably, a recalcitrant rooster! Finally, the film is, pardon the pun, blessed by a beautifully acoustic score by Fiorenzo Carpi (although Grillo at one point amusingly rushes to belt out a bluesy song on a piano when forbidden to speak at a press conference!) and is, generally, a more rewarding modern and caustic re-envisaging of Christ's ministry than Adriano Celentano's controversial JOAN LUI MA UN GIORNO NEL PAESE ARRIVO IO DI LUNEDI' (1985).
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