5 Is the Perfect Number
- 1h 40m
Based on the namesake book, the movie follows Peppino, an old hit man in a '70 Naples, forced to come back in action by the murder of his son. This tragic event also arises reflections on li... Read allBased on the namesake book, the movie follows Peppino, an old hit man in a '70 Naples, forced to come back in action by the murder of his son. This tragic event also arises reflections on life and on the society in all the characters.Based on the namesake book, the movie follows Peppino, an old hit man in a '70 Naples, forced to come back in action by the murder of his son. This tragic event also arises reflections on life and on the society in all the characters.
It has a low IMDb score and was obviously not a commercial success, both of which are highly understandable. Still, there is merit to how Igort has treated his own creation. Come to think of it, there are not many comic book creators who have personally taken on the challenge to direct live action movies based on their own work. Enki Bilal tried it and did some fan-pleaser work. The late and great Suat Yalaz remains unique in reaching box office success by writing and directing Karaoglan based on the comic he wrote and illustrated.
There is a very good reason to why Marvel Comics Universe is not employing comic book artists as directors: Cinema is a different medium and it takes more than emotional devotion to adapt sequential art to an audiovisual platform. You have to know what to sacrifice, and why.
There are several problems with "5 è il numero perfetto" but it pays off to bear with them and watch it till the end.
First of all, the overall visual approach looks more like a ripoff of other, more notable comic book adaptations. Is it so, though? Not really. Igort may have had his share of influence from Frank Miller, but neither the visual aspect nor the underlying story are things that could not have come out of his own pocket had Sin City not shaken theaters 16 years ago.
There are just too many movies from the recent decades that come to mind as you are introduced to Igort's Napoli: The Road to Perdition, Dick Tracy, John Wick, and even Dark City (mostly thanks to how the protagonist's nose compares to the Nosferatu references in that masterpiece!).
Each and every one of these predecessors have had quite an impact on how we perceive story and what we expect to see on screen when a graphic novel is the source material. This is why "5 is the perfect number" fails to "look" original. But it kind of IS original. Because the imagery of Igort comes from a different place.
Throughout the whole experience, I remained a fence sitter on whether to like or dislike the artistic choices. I could relate to the need to be "relevant" by welcoming in the John Wick pace and blood effects in the longest standoff scene, but the cheap look of those unfortunate flashback inserts from the protagonist's past were unbearable.
This is what happens when a director treats the source material of a film as his own child. Unless you are a natural born storyteller that can handle a moment in cinema as well as a frame in a comic book page, you just cannot overcome the urge to throw in everything you got regardless of how much they would improve the outcome. In that sense, Igort seems to have fallen to the very same trap with Enki Bilal, failing to repeat the success of Suat Yalaz.
The feel of the flow matters more than the composition of colors. That's it.
Strangely though, despite all the obvious mistakes, this film is kind of better in spirit than most of its predecessors that may include some Hollywood hits. Because, in the end, once the devotion to the comic book origins is absorbed and we are left with the essence of the story, we get to see how well cast Toni Servillo was as the lead. The "Napoletan" accent, when met with his deep, captivating voice, adds volumes to the suffering of the character. Peppino Lo Cicero is a very intriguing tough guy. He explains how he sees his existence as a "criminal" to his son, coming up with the analogy of how each creature functions in nature. Sounds like a cliche' at first, but the setting of that flashback scene and the usage of the kid's involvement with comic books was cool.
So was Peppino asking God "Do you understand me, Lord?" I don't recall many such scenes in which the confession / prayer of the bad guy turns into a two way street in which he actually seems to be expecting an answer while acting as if he and his God are equals in the course of the conversation.
Cool stuff galore, indeed: The music, the animated credits in the end, how Parador was introduced in the final act as a fresh new location, the stylish chapter openings...
The story that explained the inspiration for the name of the movie was awesome and could have made much more sense, but its narration was set in a small kitchen where the miscast Valeria Golino and the cornered Toni Servillo seemed not to be able to act to their fullest. Both the real time narration and the flashback scenes could have become really powerful, but rather they seemed wasted.
As I was watching that particular scene, I imagined how Tarantino could use such a dialogue. He definitely would have devoted more time building up tension and expectation, would open up the space a bit like he did in Jackie Brown in some key emotional scenes among Robert De Niro and Bridget Fonda. Yes, Tarantino would really invest in the story of that murdered cousin who had a reason to think 5 was the perfect number. Alas, Igort spent way too much time on circumstantial stuff to focus on such key scenes.
Again, the author / director obviously had a lot in his pocket. Valuable stuff. The problem is that the overuse of references (like a homage to Morricone) and the abundance of visual tricks steal away from the essential components of the movie, especially in the earlier scenes. Even though well thought individually, they become inconsistent. They make the author / director look like a Frank Miller wannabe. Igort is much better than that as a comic book creator, and so he would look like had his work been overseen by people like Robert Rodriguez.
I am giving this an 8 not because I believe it was executed so close to perfection, but because it deserves a score higher than that current 5.4, something that would help Igort's effort attract more attention, at least from the English-speaking admirers of comic book adaptations.
- Sep 17, 2021