Black Souls @ The Ross

Luciano (Frabrizio Ferracane) seeks solace at the altar

Luciano (Frabrizio Ferracane) seeks solace at the altar

We all have relatives and friends who have chosen paths in life that would make angels fast and pray. We cannot help them nor their situation; some Bible scriptures command us to love them, and we do or at least we try to love them, but from afar. Yet, no matter how much we distance ourselves from them, there is something about the biological hook-up that will cause their life choices to interrupt, if not traumatize our own. Before we know it, we are swept up into a whirlpool of something or other. Life as we have known it never will be the same–ever.

Members from the mafia try to restrain Leo (Guiseppe Fumo)

Members from the mafia try to restrain Leo (Guiseppe Fumo)

Such is the tragic predicament of Luciano in Francesco Munzi’as dark and brooding film Black Souls. I’ll get the obvious out of the way: On its face, Black Souls is a gangster film but without all of the slick glitz we have experienced in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. Munzi, still, carefully interlaces within Black Souls the usual gangster film elements: there is a Godfather Rocco, played with dark worry by Peppino Mazzotta; the good-natured brother Luigi, played by Marco Leonardi, and Leo, Luciano’s hot-headed son ready to come-of-age, played by newcomer Giuseppe Fumo.

The Funeral

The Funeral

Director Munzi makes a filmic turn by setting the story between two worlds: the cosmopolitan city of Milan and the mountainous more remote region of Africo. Luciano, played by Fabrizio Ferracane, is a humble goat farmer in Africo. He has painstakingly distanced himself and his family from life in an underworld whereby his brothers have built a lucrative drug business in Milan–or so he believes. His occupation pales by comparison, and Leo, his 20-year-old son whom he has raised among a herd of goats, rejects his father’s world and turns to the sleek and monied environment of his Uncle Rocco and Uncle Luigi. Thus begins the conflict; thus begins the sorrow; thus begins the torment–all wrapped up into a package delivered to Luciano’s threshold. When that package is unwrapped, there is a descent into madness; what is even worse, no one in the family places a hand on Luciano’s shoulder to help him move through his grief. And that, my friends, is the black in the soul of this film.

Black Souls is a tender story about the powerful force of family. That no matter if you move to heaven or to hell to be away from those who threaten your sense of the world, by some means … in some fashion … what they do or have done will find a way onto your own doorstep.

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Black Souls plays through May 21st at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

Welcome to Me also plays thru May 21st at the Ross.

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