Angels of Evil (2010)
“The incredible true story of Italy’s most notorious gangster.”
Director: Michele Placido
Cast: Kim Rossi Stuart, Filippo Timi, Valeria Solarino
Synopsis: A biography of Milanese bank robber Renato Vallanzasca.
Surface gloss and style works hard to disguise the lack of depth in Michele Placido’s biopic of infamous Italian gangster Renato Vallanzasca, despite the director’s visual flair and Kim Rossi Stuart’s riveting performance. The movie looks good, even though the 1970s detail looks more like retro appreciation than an authentic recreation of the era, but we don’t really learn that much about Vallanzasca or the people he mixed with. Born into a decent family, he openly admits there is nothing in his background to suggest the life of crime he would follow with such single-minded dedication, and the film (which boasts writing contributions from no less than eight people) seems at a loss to fill in the gaps.
The fact that Vallanzasca comes across as a charismatic rogue with good looks and impeccable dress sense might partly be due to the fact that the screenplay is based on the criminal’s own autobiography, which might explain why we never really see him committing any deeds likely to turn off the average viewer. Those he kills are all trying to kill him, those he beats have done him wrong. There’s no doubting the film’s near-unquestioning admiration for its subject, who in most people’s eyes is entirely undeserving of any kind of acclaim, and this lack of a balanced view proves fatal long before the end credits roll.
(Reviewed 15th November 2014)