Yesterday Brian, Lauren and I were in the Sala Grande participating in a full five minutes of cheers and applause for Anime Nere, in competition here at the Venice Film Festival.
Based on a novel by Gioacchino Criaco and directed by Francesco Munzi, “Black Souls” is being called by some “the new Gomorra”, but Anime Nere’s “not just a mafia movie” and has a more compelling narrative than Garrone’s classic story of Naples’ Camorra. In it, three brothers from a Calabrian crime family see the future of the family’s heroin/goat herding organization in different ways. The interactions are authentic and the dialogue in Calabrian dialect realistic; mafia movie aficionados will find the criminals in Anime Nere satisfying, those who just love a good family drama will be equally drawn in.
If all happy families are all alike, and every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, then all crime families are cursed in the same way; the circumstances never change for those on the wrong side of law from Brooklyn’s Bed Stuy, drug lords in Columbia, or members of any number of Italian organized crime families. The relationship between brothers, and a boy with his father and uncles in this film are both alike and tragic in its own way.
Living by the sword, Anime Nere’s crime family doesn’t seem to have made its peace with dying by the sword, and curse the police for getting involved in the murder investigations. “You should be ashamed!” The women wail as detectives search their homes. “You should be after the people who did this!”
“Do you want to tell us who did this?” The police ask, but they already know the answer. Nobody is talking in situations like these.
Filmed in the ancient Calabrian village of Africo, Munzi has done what all good Italian directors do and he’s made use of local talent, using non-professional actors in peripheral roles.
Whether Anime Nere has what it takes to win the Golden Lion is unimportant; it has what it takes for exportation to the United States and Americans should watch for it.