Pasolini, film review: Abel Ferrara's movie recreates 1970s Italy in loving detail

(18) Abel Ferrara, 82 mins. Starring: Willem Dafoe

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The Independent Culture

In an era of leaden biopics that take us through their subjects' lives in rigidly unimaginative fashion, Abel Ferrara's film about the last day of the brilliant Italian writer, film-maker and polemicist Pier Paolo Pasolini (murdered in 1975) is especially welcome.

Ferrara's movies have trailed so much scandal in their wake that they've blinded some to his qualities as a director. This is a supremely elegant film, shot in rich, dark colours and boasting fluid camerawork as it recreates 1970s Italy in loving detail.

The film isn't so much a conventional narrative as an elegy and a parable. Dafoe plays the doomed poet film-maker in gentle and fatalistic fashion. Pasolini is relentless in his attacks on corruption in Italian political and public life, but the film shows him as a private, reflective man.