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Review: Salvo

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A miracle thriller


- Newcomers Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s film noir is a fascinating, excellent debut.

Review: Salvo

A fascinating, Italian film noir, immaculately made, has opened the Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival. Salvo [+see also:
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festival scope
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, Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s debut work, is set in Sicily in modern times and features talented Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, (The Time That Remains by Elia Suleiman) and newcomer Sara Serraiocco.

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The former is a ferocious killer, and the latter plays the role of the blind sister of a rival criminal, killed by the gunshots of the young assassin. The realistic situation gives way to something earthshattering: the girl starts to see again, and this event creates an unbreakable bond between the two.

The beginning of the film resembles an action movie, which quickly transforms into a thriller to then go through, in the 108 minutes of its unravelling, genres, including westerns, which are far from Italian. The formal elegance of this film is touching, thanks in part to its photography (by Daniele Ciprì), and the courage of directing choices which are unusual when it comes to stories on the mafia. The long, conversation-less scene in which the killer enters the house of the man he is about to kill, where the blind woman is moving about carelessly, is seen subjectively, captivating the spectator with sequences of long shots filmed with a steadicam.

The rest of the film, knowingly unstuck from the first part, moves to the place where the killer has brought his witness and prisoner, and where the strong and tense relationship between the two youngsters develops – smoothly presented by the couple of directors. Salvo is a film full of Sicilian vision in which more space is given to sounds (curated by Guillaume Sciama and Emmanuel Di Giunta) than to dialogue and great attention is given to detail (set designer is Marco Dentici).

The film, which is yet to get Italian distribution, was given a special mention within the context of the Franco Solinas award in 2008 for its screenplay, written by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza themselves. The cast also includes Luigi Lo Cascio, Giuditta Perriera, Mario Pupella, Redouane Behache and Jacopo Menicagli. It is an Acaba Produzioni and Cristaldi Pictures production, with co-producers Mact ProductionsCité Films and Arte France Cinema with participation from Cofinova 9, in association with Mimis and Mangusta Productions, with contribution from the Ministry for Cultural Goods and ActivitiesFilm Commission Regione SiciliaTorino Film Lab, further support from Eurimages and Media in the development stages. International distribution is being undertaken by Films Distribution.

(Translated from Italian)


international title: Salvo
original title: Salvo
country: Italy, France
sales agent: Films Distribution
year: 2013
directed by: Antonio Piazza, Fabio Grassadonia
screenplay: Antonio Piazza, Fabio Grassadonia
cast: Saleh Bakri, Sara Serraiocco, Mario Pupella, Luigi Lo Cascio

main awards/selection

Cannes 2013 Semaine de la Critique
Grand Prix 2013
Revelation Prize
La Rochelle International Film Festival 2013 
Paris Cinéma 2013 
Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival 2013 
London Film Festival 2013 
Chicago International Film Festival 2013 
Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2013 
Stockholm International Film Festival 2013 
Mons International Love Film Festival 2014 

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