Original release: September 19th, 1962
Running time: 93 minutes
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Writers: Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Sergio Citti
Cast: Giancarlo De Rosa, Allen Midgette
Death comes to us all and in many different ways. For most of us, we don’t know how it will happen, or when, we just know it will. We do our best to busy ourselves with the business of life because in the back of our minds we also know death will take care of itself – whether or not we lend a helping hand.
Based on a story by Pier Paolo Pasolini, La Commare Secca was director Bernardo Bertolucci’s first feature at the age of 21.
It’s a complex and well crafted story beginning with the discovery of a prostitute’s body near a river bank. As a police investigation gets underway, what then follows are a series of interconnected accounts of each suspect’s whereabouts leading up to the time of the murder as we try to workout who the culprit was.
Could it be the young thief, Nino (Giancarlo de Rosa), who was seen walking through the park late that night? The soldier, Teodoro (Allen Midgette), who was spotted sleeping on a nearby bench might know something. What about the two boys, Pipito (Romano Labate) and Francolicchio (Alvaro D’Ercole), who followed a gay man to a darkened underpass? And why was there a guy wearing clogs?
They all have a lot to answer for and each one is as suspicious as the next, especially the greedy, cheating playboy, Bostelli (Alfredo Leggi), who was also in the vicinity of the crime that night.
Although their accounts are varying, they share one thing in common – they remember a thunderstorm earlier that day and that’s the same moment when the not-yet-dead prostitute is in her apartment getting ready.
While Bertolucci captures Rome with an almost film noir-like feel, there’s a sense of romanticism despite the poverty and grittiness that’s all around. Pipito and Francolicchio are hopelessly in love two girls who bring them sandwiches for lunch and the camera lingers on them as they dance and sing, oblivious to the world and forgetting their hunger.
Teodoro, even though he has no place to stay, seems to be in love with the city itself, wandering aimlessly from place to place and soaking up all that’s around him, before falling asleep on a bench. Each account is riveting and actors all display a raw energy which makes them seem natural in front of the camera.
La Commare Secca, even though it has a murder case to solve, takes its time to show us the lives of each of its characters. It wants us to see their passion, their anger, their greed, their joy and the murder itself becomes secondary to the point when the culprit is revealed, its somewhat underwhelming.
As a directorial debut, it shows great promise for Bertolucci who would go on to direct Before the Revolution (1964), Last Tango in Paris (1972), The Last Emperor (1987) and The Sheltering Sky (1990) among many others.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
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