A movie about a formerly powerful mobster from Milan that captured the attention of Italy during the 70s and 80s will be trying to catch America’s attention too – Vallanzasca – Gli Angeli del Male (Angel of Evil here in America) will be available September 27 on Amazon.com and can be pre-ordered now. It was shown out of competition at Venice in 2010 and it’s on the short list of movies being considered to be for submission to the Oscars for best foreign language film, but I hope that it’s not this years pick.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s pretty good. Starring Kim Rossi Stewart (to whom I never give enough credit) as Renato Vallenzasca, and Filippo TImi as his criminal buddy, I kept having to remind myself that this wasn’t actually shot in the 70s. I was a teenager in the 70s and they got it all right; the clothes, the hair, the music, and the sleaziness of the disco era.
Kim Rossi Stewart is kind of a pretty boy, but he played one convincing low-life thug as Vallenzasca, the guy who is currently serving four consecutive life sentences with an additional 290 years in a Milanese prison but for a decade wreaking havoc with Italy, outsmarting the police and the prison system, robbing banks, kidnapping, murdering, inciting riots in prison and periodically breaking out of it. The movie pretty accurately follows the real criminal’s real life, and portrays Vallanzasca’s (somewhat askew) code of honor and old-fashioned values and his success with the ladies, earning him the nickname “il bel René”. He believed that he wasn’t such a bad guy, and used the media to help him get public support.
Vallanzasca – Gli Angeli del Male is slick and exciting – and it’s bloody enough for those of you who like a good crime story and it’s a great story – I just don’t think that it has that special something that will get the Academy’s attention for an Oscar. I liked it, but there’s no big “wow” factor here and I want to pick a winner.
Vallenzasca had his heyday but all good heydays end and after prison beatings, betrayals, and the crumbling of his gang, the “Banda della Comasina”, he lost steam and publicly announced that he won’t try to break out of prison again. Today, he’s part of a work release program and goes out during the day to a job in the suburbs.
Angel of Evil has already played in a few theaters across the country, so maybe you’ve seen it. It’s an engaging and solid crime movie that I think America will like. Take a look at the trailer from the UK and see if you don’t agree.