salvo-sara-serraiocco-e-saleh-bakri-fuggono-in-una-scena-del-film-277614There’s nothing quite like an Italian Mafia movie. They are cinematic by their very nature, oozing style, sex and masculinity. They are made for the big screen, and Salvo, the latest offering from Italian duo Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza, is certainly no exception. It has all the hallmarks of an exciting, modern thriller, yet has a certain nostalgia that makes it feel somewhat timeless.

Our enigmatic protagonist is lone assassin Salvo, (Saleh Bakri), a silent, brooding character, able to snuff out a life without so much as a backward glance. That is, until he meets the beautiful Rita (Sara Serraiocco). Her blindness makes her vulnerable, a trait that Salvo is not accustomed to in his line of work, and he can’t quite get her out of his head. She is a witness to her brother’s death at Salvo’s cruel hands, and he feels a responsibility towards her that he cannot shake. Their initial meeting is tense and fraught with danger, and the beginning of the film in particular sets up a typically Mafioso picture, but then drifts into a dreamy, meandering melodrama.

The film is essentially about communication. Though Rita is completely blind, she and Salvo speak to each other very little. They seems magnetically drawn to each other and communicate through their bodies, somehow, without touch. Salvo cannot seem to escape his inner brute initially, his prolonged cruelty towards her feels like an act of necessity as opposed to something he’s unable to control. Salvo also has a complicated relationship with his parents. His mother is a domineering, bullying character whilst his father is a meek, mild mannered creature, cowering and relenting to his wife’s constant nagging. His inability to communicate with his parents shifts as he relinquishes his physical power over Rita, and it’s fascinating to watch.

Directors Grassadonia and Piazza are obsessed by the physical. The magnetism between two bodies, the brutality of a murder. It goes without saying that the photography is also exquisite. From the crooked roads to the billowing meadows, every frame is lit to absolute perfection.

At times it’s incredibly hard to look past some of the more overtly melodramatic elements, and if you’re unable to do so in the first 15 minutes of the film than you’re unlikely to be able to do so for the rest. The story certainly has some particularly miraculous resolutions, but for those who can suspend their disbelief for long enough, what plays out is a stylish, beautiful ode to all that is glorious about Italian melodrama.