Where some directors discard conventional story-telling structures in favour of more experimental strands with entwining subplots and fractured narratives, others adhere to more simple, linear tales, creating fleeting features that are easy on the brain but forgotten almost instantly after watching them. Italian Writer/ Director Marco Bellocchio embraces the challenging but despite embellishing rich themes and social commentary within sumptuous settings, his latest work strives too hard to be ground-breaking and has a venomous disregard for precision.

Seventeenth Century Nobleman Frederico (Pier Giorgio Bellocchio) visits a Santa Ciara convent in Bobbio where a Cardinal must determine whether his late brother (who recently committed suicide) is worthy of a Catholic burial. While the local Father Cacciapuoti (Fausto Russo Alesi) attempts to extract a confession from Sister Benedetta (Lidiya Liberman): a nun believed to be possessed by Satan and responsible for seducing Frederico’s brother, Frederico also finds himself falling for the demonic temptress and fears to be following the same fatal path as his late sibling.

While Blood of my Blood may strike a chord with fans of Bellocchio’s oeuvre or with film theorists keen on wading through subtexts, on the hunt for buried themes, it may prove onerous and self-indulgent to general viewers. The perplexing story stumbles incoherently in the second act where a modern day tax inspector (Pier Giorgio Bellocchio) and a Russian billionaire Rikalkov (Ivan Franek) attempt to buy the decrepit convent/ prison, much to the dismay of the local Conte (Roberto Herlitzka) and a cack-handed, self-confessed maniac (Filippo Timi) who fritters in the background, being gratingly anarchic.

An ill-suited score befuddles further while irrelevant back-stories are unnecessarily elaborated on by supporting characters. Greater efforts should have been given to refining exposition and plot progression and despite a stunning setting, Blood of my Blood fails to emote or enliven. A second viewing may clarify niggling after-thoughts regarding what the hell was going on but finding anyone willing to sit through it again may prove challenging. Bellocchio appears to use ambiguity as a smokescreen for the monotonous, bungled drama where awful characters and some inappropriate comedy also clash and contribute inanity. Is a blind man falling over supposed to be funny?

Blood of my Blood weaves supernatural elements into its resolution yet remains maddeningly mystifying throughout. It is arguably more challenging for a film-maker to create an original work than one that’s packaged to be compatible with a general audience. Bellocchio applies ambiguity but falters in his attempt to assimilate wonder. Blood of my Blood will probably hang in the brain longer than a any kind of linear mainstream work but it’s an emotionally defective endurance test that badgers like a headache in a war museum and won’t be revisited for clarity, any time soon.

Blood of My Blood
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Daniel Goodwin is a prevalent film writer for multiple websites including HeyUGuys, Scream Horror Magazine, Little White Lies, i-D and Dazed. After studying Film, Media and Cultural Studies at university and Creative Writing at the London School of Journalism, Daniel went on to work in TV production for Hat Trick Productions, So Television and The London Studios. He has also worked at the Home Office, in the private office of Hilary Benn MP and the Coroner's and Burials Department, as well as on the Movies on Pay TV market investigation for the Competition Commission.