February 27, 2017 | Rome, Italy | Partly cloudy 16°C
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Biopics

Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson''s return to directing is a World War II epic about a heroic conscientious objector.

Documentaries

Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years

Ron Howard's Beatles' portrait sets its sights on tracking the band's rise from obscurity, and does so brilliantly.

Drama

Demon

Marcin Wrona's portrayal of a wedding, and a haunting, is a brilliant look at historical denial.

Florence Foster Jenkins

Stephen Frears' biopic has star power (Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant) but remains ordinary.

Sully

Stalwart Tom Hanks again proves that given the right story and the right script, he's today's Jimmy Stewart.

Deepwater Horizon

Peter Berg lets fire dictate the terms in his story of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Horror

The Autobiography of Jane Doe

André Øvredal's creepy chiller a corpse into the forefront and lets it play havoc.

Thrillers

Jason Bourne

Once upon a time, director Paul Greengrass gave Jason Bourne a soul and some depth. No longer.

Westerns

Hell or High Water

David MacKenzie's contemporary Western uses two sets of buddies to tell an outlaw story.

Fantasy

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Tim Burton's whimsical latest has a better chance of appealing to grandchildren than adults.




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

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