August 5, 2015 | Rome, Italy | Clear 24°C
Search film reviews:
Genre: Keyword:

Action

Black Sea

Jude Law plays a submarine captain and mercenary in a move that drowns.

Biopics

Big Eyes

Tim Burton fails to animate a story about an American painter whose art is "stolen" by her husband.

American Sniper

American sniper Chris Kyle is portrayed as a simple and direct man, to Clint Eastwood's credit.

Documentaries

Red Army

This remarkable look at the Soviet hockey dynasty of the 1970s and 80s is also a passion play.

Drama

Hollywoodland

A story about what might have happened to the original Superman is stylish but shallow.

Leviathan

Andrey Zvyagintsev's deeply moving account of a Russian life in tatters is high on fatalism.

Horror

The Canal

Irish writer-director Ivan Kavanaugh's haunted house riff does all the right things, but flatly.

Love Eternal

A horror thriller about bereavement, estrangement and necrophilia is odd but incomplete.

Westerns

Slow West

New Zealander John MacLean constructs a brooding Western from a host of quirky parts.

Fantasy

Time Lapse

Bradley King's supernatural thriller has a good idea but its characters soon find themselves boxed in.




Date: 1991
Directed by: Marco Risi
Starring: Corso Salani, Angela Finocchiaro, Antonello Fassari

Il Muro di Gomma (The Rubber Wall)

Early 1990s Italy answered in part to the Mani Pulite ("Clean Hands") bribery and embezzlement probe that ultimately destroyed both the country's Christian Democratic and Socialist parties. At the time, political moviemaking had pulse. Director Marco Risi (son of Dino Risi) did his crusading part by fictionalizing journalist Andrea Purgatori's efforts to get to the truth behind the infamous Ustica crash.

In June 1980, a DC-9 headed from Bologna to Palermo disintegrated inexplicably over the Sicilian island of Ustica. Writing in the Milan daily Corriere della Sera, Purgatori alleged that errant NATO fire had brought down the plane. Air force and political officials stonewalled demands to make air controller tapes of the plane's disappearance a matter of public record.

In Risi's fictionalized behind-the-headlines story, Purgatori is a journalist named Rocco Ferrante (Corso Salani), who works for years to get to the heart of the matter but time and again is denied information and answers. He turns obsessed and near-paranoid, with fellow journalists questioning his stability. His reporting ultimately leads to a criminal hearing that suggests a cover-up but lacks the details to prove it. At the end, in driving rain, Ferrante dresses down an Italian air force general he's convinced has lied under oath to magistrates.

The narrative is no-frills chilling and very Italian, particularly since the mystery remains unsolved three decades later. "The rubber wall" of the film's title is the one around Italian state secrets, covered by an official code of silence in the way Mafia crimes are protected by so-called omertà. Though four Italian air force generals were ultimately charged with falsifying documents, perjury and abuse of office, two were acquitted and the other two never went to trial.

Italian filmmakers, once emboldened, no longer bother with these kind of biopics, resigned instead to the country's great unknowns.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
Day and Boarding International High School in the Heart of Rome

Everything you need to know about visiting or moving to Tuscany, Italy.