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VENICE 2019 Orizzonti

Review: The Criminal Man


- VENICE 2019: The second feature by Georgian director Dmitry Mamuliya is a superb psychological thriller about the genesis of evil in the mind of a serial killer

Review: The Criminal Man
Giorgi Petriashvili and Madona Chachkhiani in The Criminal Man

After making his debut with the drama Another Sky, Georgian director Dmitry Mamuliya has presented The Criminal Man [+see also:
film profile
in the Orizzonti competition of the 76th Venice Film Festival. His second feature is a sublime psychological thriller about the family history of a serial killer, told from the murderer’s point of view.

The film kicks off inside a vehicle occupied by the criminal-to-be. Giorgi Mekshi (George Petriashvili), an introverted 28-year-old engineer, comes across the body of a famous goalkeeper from a national team (Nukri Revishvili), which has just been left on the road. The man decides not to tell his family – consisting of his sister (Madona Chachkhiani) and her daughter – about his accidental discovery, as if it were a secret just for him. However, when he gets home and turns on the TV, Giorgi sees that the news is all over the local TV channels. The press have robbed him of his discovery. The journalists have shared with the rest of the country the most important event that has ever occurred during his monotonous, empty life. But Giorgi isn’t about to give up. When he realises that he is the primary witness to the crime, the protagonist thinks he can unmask the murderer, without the police’s help.

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The Criminal Man portrays the evolution of the sick emotional bond that the main character has formed with the footballer’s body. The first part of the movie presents itself as a detective thriller. Day after day, the engineer pieces together clues, behaving like an amateur investigator: Giorgi returns to the scene of the crime, and even closely trails the deceased’s widow and daughter. Until one day, his obsession for solving the case will lead him to cross the line, ethically speaking. And thus, in order to figure out who he’s actually looking for, he has to start behaving like them. In other words, he has to learn how to kill.

In the second act of this Dostoyevskian picture, Dmitry Mamuliya homes in on the crux of the movie: the origin of evil in the very soul of this miserable man. The icy and unwholesome atmosphere that envelops the protagonist (achieved superbly through the talented cinematography of Anton Gromov and Alisher Khaidkhodzhaev), the unhurried pace of the film and the lack of dialogue, especially in this final act, lend the movie an amplified feeling of subjectivity, allowing the viewer to delve inside the mind of this newly formed serial killer.

The Criminal Man was produced by Georgian outfit Milimeter Film and Russia’s Kinokult Producer’s Center.

(Translated from Spanish)

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