Monday, January 01, 2007

[1981] TRAGEDY OF A RIDICUlOUS MAN: Mild Bertolucci movie about the owner of a failing cheese factory (Ugo Tognazzi) whose son gets kidnapped. Or does he? Doubt begins to creep in about whether the son staged the whole thing to finance his leftist buddies, and when there's a rumor that the son has been killed that's doubtful too. All the owner knows is--if his son is dead, he can reinvest the ransom money back in his factory. His wife (Anouk Aimee--and Bertolucci loves the Anouk Aimee closeup) is of course constantly erring on the side of hope and constantly has to prod her husband into following the ransomer's wisher. And there's two of his son's friends who may be part of the kidnappers, or may be acting in his son's best interests--who can say? Bertolucci makes sure everyone's motivations are muddled or opaque (with the possible exception of Anouk Aimee, who--if she wanted anything other than her son's safe return--I didn't see it) and so when the son turns up alive in the end we have no clarification about the particulars of his kidnapping. All we know is that Ugo Tognazzi's character is one confused, passive-agressive dude. And that's what we're left with, Tognazzi running from the camera like he evaded thinking hard about anything throughout the movie (he's the ridiculous man of the title.) Like I said--it's a mild film about a mild little man that you'll enjoy but not especially rave about. It's, like, the safe artistic foreign movie retired people see at the local arthouse matinee.

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