Nameless Authority, or negotiations between the Italian State and the Mafia
by Roberto Oggiano
- Salvo Cuccia returns to the big screen with a noir that plays on the ambiguity of a police commissioner investigating the Di Matteo Case
One of the surprises of this edition of the Turin Film Festival is Nameless Authority [+see also:
film profile] by Salvo Cuccia. Set in 90s Palermo and inspired by real events, this film takes the form of a psychological thriller to tell the story of the everyday lives of a police commissioner and his wife, the sister of an informer.
The director skilfully overcomes the dichotomy between the good State and the evil Mafia which so often features in mafia stories, getting up close and personal with the characters with frequent probing and unflappable close-ups. Roles merge together, making everyone equal: the police commissioner behaves like a mafia boss, and the policemen interrogating the suspect like his goons.
The constant use of flashbacks, flawless editing and the incorporation of elements of mystery are essential to highlighting that the characters aren’t exactly on opposing sides. As the film goes on, we can’t tell who’s who, the policemen we see interrogating the suspect are the same men we see dissolving the son of the informer in acid. Everything unfolds in a dull, claustrophobic and extremely confusing atmosphere, as the director explains in the director’s notes: “There’s a borderline that becomes increasingly hard to make out as the story progresses”.
The references to the murder of little Giuseppe Di Matteo, the son of Santo the informer, who was held hostage for two years and whose body was disposed of in acid, are obvious, but less obvious is why, in a symbolic overturning of events, it is the police who dissolve his body in acid in the film. Salvo Cuccia makes no explicit accusations, there would be no point, and is not interested in simply portraying the facts either. This is film, and film should above all tell complicated stories.
The magnificent score by Domenico Sciajino heightens the tension that hovers throughout the entire film, even when it seems like nothing is happening and the characters’ suffering remains hidden.
Nameless Authority gives us a snapshot of those times, when everything was kept private, hidden. This is a film that encourages us to not give up investigating the phenomenon, to not give up trying to understand how and why, a film that steps back from the legalitarian vision of the many TV series and mini series that crowd Italian TV programmes, like Squadra Antimafia.
(Translated from Italian)