Criterion Sunday 333: I pugni in tasca (Fists in the Pocket, 1965)

There’s a certain strain of Italian cinema in the 60s that seemed to deal with psychological character studies of individuals straining against societal expectations or mores (I’m thinking of Pasolini’s Theorem, but I’m sure there are others like this). I only feel sure of it, because I’m equally sure I have difficulty really connecting with these guys, though I suppose at a superficial level they look like me (well, they’re usually younger, if I’m honest). Still, there’s a lot going on with Alessandro, “Ale” for short (Lou Castel) in this film, as he finds himself increasingly set against his family, increasingly wound up by their inability to function (hence the title’s imagery). He thinks about killing his mother and developmentally challenged younger brother, as a favour to his sister/girlfriend (it’s a bit unclear quite how Paola Pitagora’s Giulia fits into his life) and older, more “normal” (if dull) brother (Marino Masé)… and slowly these ideas start to coalesce into action, shocking when it happens. The idea of how his ideas of a better life conflict with societal norms are sort of at the core of the film, and of course this makes him a deeply dislikable individual. Of course, maladjusted young men with bad ideas, sadly, will probably always be with us.


FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director/Writer Marco Bellocchio; Cinematographer Alberto Marrama; Starring Lou Castel, Paola Pitagora, Marino Masé; Length 108 minutes.

Seen at home (DVD), London, Friday 10 July 2020 (and earlier on VHS at home, Wellington, November 1999).

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