26 September 2004 | bob the moo
A downbeat and interesting film but the structure makes it harder to watch, unengaging and fragmented - some viewers may find it a little dull and inconsequential
Roberto goes by many names. At times he is a terrorist on the run, other times he is a spy, some times he is English, other times he is Italian. However his most dangers switch is the one he makes regularly between being an unusual young man with normal girlfriend before becoming a murdering thief who kidnaps his victims and occasionally rapes and murders them. He sets off with new girlfriend Lea who gradually begins to realize that 'Kurt' is not all that he first appeared. Meanwhile the police continue their manhunt after finding several bodies in various states of decay.
Thanks to the free-to-air digital channel BBC4, I was able to see this film despite having never heard of it nor the situation that it is based on. The film starts with two mangled bodies being discovered then jumps forward 5 years to find Roberto living in France and making up interesting lives for each person he meets in clubs etc. In a way it should be fascinating but in reality this guy comes across as a disturbed young man who has no care of other people hence he is free to kill. The film never really gets to the core of this character and, as a result, it is hard to care enough about him to be consistently interested in his story, leaving just a pretty unpleasant young man running around on the screen. I wouldn't go as far to call it dull or boring but it isn't the most engaging film I have ever seen and I found it hard to find something to hold on to (narrative-wise anyway).
The film is violent at turns but not in a gory, glamorising sort of way but in a rather matter of fact fashion that I felt suited the almost docu-drama presentation style. The violent scenes and car chases do provide some excitement but the majority of the film is rather talky. This is not a problem when we are being told a story or things are happening, but the slow development of his relationship with Lea seemed meandering without contributing anything or helped me learn anything more about Roberto or his story. Like I said, I would hesitate to call it dull but it wasn't delivered very well. The wider structure is a problem as it does jump around in time; I'm not sure about the real story but it felt like the film had a lot of ground to cover and that it was stretched to turn events into an engaging narrative for the sake of this film. The cast are OK but it is only really Cassetti who makes an impression; as much as I disliked his character, it was to his credit that I believed him as a dead-eyed, callous killer who seemingly had lost his true sense of self, and it is not his fault that the script didn't help him by building a better sense of character for us. Besco is OK but is not as important to the film as I suspect she was in real life I felt she was a little bland but that may have been the fault of the material more than her. The support cast aren't bad, but none of them really made an impression on me and I have little to say.
Overall this is an OK film it is interesting but it never really manages to be engaging in the way it should have been. The structure and delivery suck the life out of the material and make it feel rather plodding at times and it is easy to be uninterested in it for long spells. The story itself sounds compelling but the script never really tells us very much about the title character meaning he could be any callous youth on a spree, why should he get my time over any other? Worth seeing but many will struggle to care about the story as the delivery is poor and the material is less than it should have been, even if it got the downbeat mood spot on.