In a seedy section of Rome, Vittorio Cataldi - "Accattone" ("beggar" in Italian) to those that know him - lives off the avails of prostitution, Maddalena being his one and only girl. He is married to Ascenza with who he has one young son named Iaio, but he does not live with them - they who live with her father and brother - provide for them, or play any important part of their lives. He generally hangs out with his similarly slack life friends playing cards and drinking. His source of income is threatened when Maddalena is injured being hit by a motorcyclist, then beaten by rivals of his, which leads to her being arrested and jailed for a year. Largely because of Iaio, Accattone contemplates going straight and getting a real job. Then he meets Stella, a young innocent woman who has had a hard life, but who is not as naive to the ways of the world as she first appears. Accattone falls in love with her, but as the thought of working a steady job now becomes abhorrent, contemplates ...Written by
According to Paolo Bonacelli, one of the main stars of Pasolini's final movie Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), Pasolini was in mind Giorgio Cataldi to play the part of Accattone, but he was replaced by Franco Citti because he was in jail at the moment of the filming. Is very typical in Pasolini's movies that characters share name with the actor who play them, and curiously, Accattone's surname is Cataldi. Giorgio Cataldi would do the first of his only two films in Pasolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), along with Bonacelli. See more »
a documentary-dramatization of a pimp looking for redemption
Accattone announces a director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, who is a haunting/haunted poet from his surroundings and realist, someone who wants to put his eye on the world without flinching on the details of how 'ordinary' (of the street) people speak and interact, how raw and uninhibited they can be, these being the guys on the streets who are vulgar and coarse at best and at worst are abusers of women. But at the same time what one comes away with is poetry in documentary form - it's another level of neo-realism, a little more like an urban story than a post-war treatise that still throbs with the importance of those in poverty. Anytime I hear the song Matthaus Passion I'll immediately contemplate those harsh images of Vittorio Accattone, being cast aside by his family for being a pimp, or that poor girl being beaten at night by that gang of men, which is something that elevates such hard scenes into art.
Vittorio Accattone is the main character- charming and attractive, and also a perpetual scoundrel who also is a total outcast. He has a wife and kid(s), but is estranged from them by choice - her choice most likely - and he finds himself in big trouble once his main prostitute, Maddalena, is sent to prison for a bad informing job. It's after this we see Accatone on his potential path to redemption when he meets a supremely sweet and average girl from out of town, Stella, who he may eye as a new girl on the street... or perhaps not, as his attachment to her grows more and stronger, in spite of what and who are around him every day and night in the dirty province.
He's someone we want to root for in being a better person, or, perhaps even, better at what he does. He's a tragic anti-hero in a New-Wave sort of sense, cool looking and aspiring to be modern and cool (and maybe he is, up to a point), but also poor and uneducated, so much so that being on the fringe and being called "PIMP!" is what he's been reduced to by default. The performance from Franco Citti is one thing that keeps the viewer locked in: he's so good here because he looks plucked right off the street by Pasolini, as would turn to be his method with choosing most of his 'actors' on camera. There's a reality to his interactions with his friends (so called) or his business associates. Some of their dialog and tones of speech aren't refined or look trained. At one point when Citti's Vittorio breaks down in tears- a sudden turn from a previous scene showing more attitude- is authentic, even as another actor could have possibly played it "better".
It is what Pasolini wants, and he gets it, much in the same way he also gets a view of this side of Rome in a way that hasn't been seen before up until this time. His DP Tonino Delli Colli shoots simply often, and sometimes not so much - there's complexity, say, to a tracking shot in front of Accatone talking to a girl who is on a bicycle, or when we see the horrorshow of the men taking Maddalena at night in the middle of nowhere, the only lights starkly coming from the car. The effect is nothing short of a slow-burn. While a few of the actors do fall a bit too flat, and some scenes come close to lagging around (the editing might be the most significant flaw here), the raw emotion and fire in the subject matter keeps things fascinating. You want to see what happens with this young guy, and it's his tragedy that gets us absorbed, even as the Bach music abstracts the sorrow, and agonizing poetry of the streets, and it's this that makes it a classic.
Only downside I must mention - if you live in the US, or happen to watch it on a DVD or online from Walter Bearer films, the print is just not very good. It's the sort where the white subtitles drop in and out of view depending on who's standing where in a frame. It's not totally detrimental, but some scenes become hard to follow due to the poor quality of the subtitles with the print. This, if for no other reason, demands the film receive the Criteron treatment.
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