Review: The Last Night of Amore
- BERLINALE 2023: Andrea Di Stefano directs with a steady pulse a thriller that sheds light on the plight of police officers, amid low salaries, double jobs and the sirens of corruption
A spectacular gliding flight over Milan, at night, ends near the city's central station, inside a small flat crammed with buzzing people. There is an air of surprise party, there is music, trays of freshly baked lasagna and children playing. Friends, relatives and his young wife, who is coordinating everything, are all waiting for him, Franco Amore, to celebrate his last day of work before retiring after 35 years of honourable service in the state police. When he arrives, Franco can hardly hold back tears, he even looks upset. Such a surprise, such emotions – his grown-up daughter is even here, connected by video call from abroad! But when he gets a call from his boss, and not to wish him a happy birthday, Franco has to leave the party. What happens? Before returning home, had Franco really gone for a run as everyone thought?
This is how Andrea Di Stefano's new film, The Last Night of Amore [+see also:
interview: Andrea Di Stefano
film profile], presented at the 73rd Berlinale in the Berlinale Special section, begins, before jumping back ten days. Ten days earlier, Franco (Pierfrancesco Favino), one step away from retirement, is offered a seemingly simple and highly remunerative 'little job' commissioned by a Chinese clan. An honest policeman who has never shot a living soul, he is reluctant to accept, but his wife's cousin Cosimo (Antonio Gerardi), a Calabrese man whose activities remain dubious and for whom Franco already works as a personal security guard, manages to convince him. We then discover that the upright Franco, through his wife Viviana (Linda Caridi), is in fact related to people who gravitate around the 'ndrangheta – a conflict of interest that over the years has led him to be excluded from important investigations (his superiors feared he might spill the beans to his wife) and not to make a single step forward in his career.
Low pay, rewards that never arrive, and difficulty in making ends meet are the breeding ground for the unedifying drift of even the most unsuspicious of agents. And so, despite his strict rules of engagement (“do not transport criminals, armed people or drugs”), Franco ends up in much bigger trouble than he was in before. And all this just a day before his retirement, while he is still writing his farewell speech, and with the risk of his pension being taken away from him and his family.
In his third feature film behind the camera (after Escobar: Paradise Lost [+see also:
film profile], starring Benicio Del Toro, and The Informer [+see also:
interview: Andrea Di Stefano
film profile]), Andrea Di Stefano, recently also the screenwriter of the crime series Bang Bang Baby [+see also:
series profile] as well as a long-standing actor, directs this thriller/drama with a steady pulse, succeeding in conveying the right amount of suspense and subterranean tension, and with a good narrative rhythm (the director also signs the screenplay), effectively using the device of re-enacting the same scenes from different points of view (reviewing it in the light of the facts, we understand that Franco's emotion at his party was due to something else, for example). Favino's acting talents are well known, and to note here in particular is the performance of Linda Caridi, who gracefully (and with a distinct Calabrian accent) brings to life a very complex and multifaceted female character, who at first seems to be her husband's sidekick, but instead holds the reins of everything. Also in the cast is Francesco Di Leva, in the role of Dino, Franco's friend and colleague, another agent – a good man –for whom corruption is a necessary double job, almost an obligatory choice.
(Translated from Italian)
Photogallery 24/02/2023: Berlinale 2023 - L’ultima notte di Amore
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