More illustrative than narrative, Non Essere Cattivo is as excruciatingly emotional to talk about as it is to watch.
The last film of Claudio Caligari (who died right after editing) representing Italy in the upcoming Oscar race, tells the story of two marginalized young men, drug addicts/drug dealers in Ostia in the ’80s. Non Essere Cattivo (Don’t Be Bad) tells about the side of Italy the tourists don’t want to know about, but should, if they really want to know Italy.
Starring Luca Marinelli (Tutti I Santi Giorni) and Alessandro Borghi (Suburra), Non Essere Cattivo is just plain REAL, funny (in parts) as well as tragic, and it requires us to open our hearts and relate to these “losers”. Yes, it would be better to do as Vittorio (Borghi) tries to do, search for stability and contribute to society, but how does one do that in the absence of opportunity?
This film is an attack on the senses, with a discomforting realism in the streets, the homes, and the dialogue of these ’80s thugs, obviously harder to recreate than it looks or more filmmakers would get it right.
And without the brilliant casting of Marinelli and Borghi, none of this would work at all. Without a hint of overacting, hyperbole, or superfluous emotion, these two young actors out-acted the best Hollywood has to offer.
My only complaint; the soundtrack. I’m not sure what I would have replaced it with, but I do know that the bromidic, over-produced, music that would have seem dated even in the ’80s was distracting.
It’s important to note producer Valerio Mastandrea’s determination to finish Caligari’s work and get it into theaters. “I’m an actor, not a producer”, said Mastandrea at the Cinema Made In Italy press conference in Los Angeles, but it was, it seemed, the most important thing in the world to bring us this movie.