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HUNDRED STEPS, THE (I CENTO PASSI)

SYNOPSIS:
In the Sicilian seaside town of Cinisi, Luigi Impastano (Luigi Maria Burruano) works for Mafia chieftan Gaetano Badalamenti (Tony Sperandeo). When Luigi's rebellious son Peppino (Luigi Lo Cascio) develops a political conscience he starts a private radio station and exposes Badalamenti as a Mafia boss. Peppino's revelations initiate a chain of violence that reaches its climax in the lead-up to local elections in which Peppino has declared his intention to run for office. Based on a true story.


The Hundred Steps is not just another film about a brave magistrate/ politician/ policeman who stood up to the mob. This biography of Peppino Impastato offers something deeper in texture by placing the Mafia in the background and Peppino's political idealism and family life centre stage. The scene is set effectively with Peppino's happy childhood being destroyed by the murder of his uncle, a high-ranking Mafioso. Influenced by Communist painter Stefano Venuti (Andrea Tidoni) Peppino re-appears as a young adult filled with the socialist spirit and rebellion that would sweep across Europe in May 1968. What lifts this out of the ordinary is the complex personal territory it covers following Peppino's radio broadcast "outing" of Mafia boss Tano Badalamenti (Tony Sperandeo). His relationships with his brother, mother and father - a product of Mafia culture with fealty to Tano - making a forceful statement about the family you're born to and the "family" you really answer to. Giordano wears his heart on his sleeve but doesn't fall into the trap of presenting Peppino and his supporters as the pure white to the Mafia's black. There's a funny and very truthful scene in which the sometimes confused young rebels have just watched Francesco Rosi's anti-corruption classic Hands Over The City and are supposed to discuss its political significance. Then the turntable blasts off and the forum turns into a rock'n'roll party. Anyone who's been involved in youth politics will nod and smile. Peppino Impastato's body was discovered on the same day in 1978 as that of kidnapped Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro - Impastato's death hardly rating a mention outside Cinisi. Giordano's compelling film places his name and his struggle in the public eye and reminds us of countless others cut down by oppressive forces, whether they be the Mafia or The State. Strong stuff and highly recommended.
Richard Kuipers

The first quarter-hour of The Hundred Steps feels like a conventional slice of nostalgia: history from a wide-eyed child’s point of view, with picturesque country roads, syrupy period music (‘Volare’ over the opening credits), and references to the Mafia that supply the necessary dash of socially significant unease. But then (in one of several abrupt transitions) we blink and it’s the mid-1960s, and cute little Peppino has grown up into a surly mop-top battling to bring down the system, organising political briefing sessions that double as underground parties where the comrades dance all night to rock and roll. Peppino Impastato was, it seems, a real person (he died in 1978) and this portrait of the intellectual as a brooding young hipster has an appealing period glamour. In an energetic if not especially subtle performance, Luigi Lo Cascio as Impastato comes off as both extroverted and self-absorbed: he’s most alive when isolated in the studio for his gonzo radio broadcasts, manic jive sessions that mix high-flown rhetoric and scurrilous attacks on public figures, quotes from Dante and A Whiter Shade Of Pale. The film and its star are less successful with Impastato’s internal struggles and his divided attitude to his family; the device of contrasting Peppino with his milder younger brother feels corny, and at times the personal side of the story becomes choppy and hard to follow. The main focus is finally less on individuals than on the turbulent public history of the period, though here too there are problems with fitting everything in (I think the feminist movement gets about ten seconds). Above all, the film remains too nostalgic for its own good, depicting a purportedly radical figure in a staid, conventional style. While there's still some bite in their portrayal of the Mafia as dominating 'respectable' society, the filmmakers keep their distance from Peppino’s blunt anger, as if to suggest that the broader political battles he fought have been won or lost long ago.
Jake Wilson

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

HUNDRED STEPS, THE (I CENTO PASSI) (M)
(ITALY)

CAST: Luigi Lo Cascio, Luigi Maria Burruano, Lucia Sardo, Paolo Briguglia, Tony Sperandeo

PRODUCERS: Fabrizio Mosca

DIRECTOR: Marco Tullio Giordana

SCRIPT: Claudio Fava, Marco Tullio Giordana, Monica Zapelli

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roberto Forza

EDITOR: Roberto Missiroli

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Franco Ceraolo

RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace Cinemas

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 2001 (Melbourne); July 19 (Sydney); Other states TBA

Italian with English subtitles







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