Studio: One 7 Movies
Theatrical Release: March 29, 1962 (Italy)
DVD Release: February 9, 2016
Director: Sergio Citti
Review by Vidal Granandos
A Violent Life begins when anarchist’s brothers Bandiera (Laurent Terzieff) and Rabbino (Franco Citti, The Godfather) visit their mother at the hospital on her deathbed. The men stare at their mother emotionlessly as she painfully gasps for her last breathe before she dies.
After the opening credits, the two siblings along with three friends find a blonde-hair woman lying unconscious in the grassy plains. She wakes up without speaking a word and the men carry her back to the brothers’ rundown house. In a powerful scene, trumpets play in the background while the brothers mourn their mother’s death in silence drinking stolen wine. Upstairs the three friends undress the girl and take advantage of the quiet beauty. The brother’s match each other cup for cup while the vulture’s upstairs trade rounds on the girl.
Afterwards the three men leave with satisfied smiles on their faces wishing the grieving brothers a good day. Then Bandiera and Rabbino wrestle each other for the last glass of sanctuary before spilling the wine all over the table. Laughing over how silly they look licking the tabletop, they walk together in arms and head toward upstairs. In the bedroom, the blonde woman is awake, lying on their bed naked. As soon as you think the brothers were going to take advantage of her like the other scumbags, the brothers kick her off the bed. As she lies naked on the floor, they drop their dirty clothes on her, say their prayers and go to sleep.
The trio slowly becomes friends as the young woman stays, living at the men’s one bedroom home. The brothers continue their sinful ways of stealing while she stays cleaning the house. They steal food, clothes, musical instruments; anything they think she might like. She playfully puts makeup and wigs on the men and plays an accordion while they dance. When she stops she asks them if they want to know how she lost her virginity.
In a flashback, a douchebag soldier tries to rape the woman. Her widow father comes to save her, fighting off the bastard. Her father then takes her under a tree and deflowers her! Though no sex is shown the fact that her dad kisses her is fucked up! Seems every guy in this town is trying to give her the Italian sausage. Well everyone except Bandiera and Rabbino.
Feeling sympathy for her, the brothers tell her how they killed their government-fighting father when they were kids because he killed their pet sheep for a celebration dinner. The adults at the dinner are celebrating a revolt against the government and are just laughing and taunting little Bandiera and Rabbino. They even sing a song in unison saying how Rosina the Sheep is in heaven. Feeling bad, their father then tells the kids to stop crying and lets them both smoke half a cigarette to ease their hearts claiming they learned a valuable life lesson. The kids return the favor.
The relationship between all three main characters is an interesting dynamic. We never learn the girls name but that’s the point. She is a symbol of desire. All the men in A Violent Life are weak. Which is why practically every guy she comes in contact with wants to have sex with her. The brothers however show no interest in her sexually and this attracts her to them. She is safe around them and they are in turn able to be vulnerable around her. She is able to be herself around them because she knows the brothers don’t want anything from her aside from conversation and for her to clean the house. The blonde scarlet even tries to tempt the brothers by constantly getting naked around them yet the brothers never falter. They simply look the other way; as if embarrassed.
Rabbino and Bandiera are by no means saints themselves, constantly stealing to survive, but they pray throughout the entire movie and have a code they live by. Their father taught them to fight for everything that they earn, but the brothers spent their lives living in momma’s catholic house. The brothers are in many ways cowards. They steal, drink and are completely depend on their mother. Now she’s gone, the quiet devil is there to fill their void. The are also loyal to each other. Rabbino is the stronger more brass hotheaded brother whereas Bandiera is the thinking, soft-spoken one. However as the movie progresses so does their jealousy. Though neither is overly attractive to the girl, she gets them to open up leading to the brothers butting heads.
The picture quality is very good for an old 1970’s film transferred onto DVD. Director Sergio Citti makes great use some high angle shots to show the scale of the town of Ostia. Heavy catholic hums play during the morose part of the film, while using upbeat Italian country music for times of celebration. All actors do a great job at filming their roles. Franco Citti as the brute Rabbino contrast well against Laurent Terzieff’s gentle Bandiera. The blonde hair woman is played by Serena Verano who does a great job. Though she gets naked a lot, her character plays innocent. The way she speaks one would believe she genuinely cares for the brothers. She wants these momma’s boys to get out of their shells and live their lives. When the brothers go to jail for robbing, it’s there where their loyalty, faith, and desires truly start being tested.
A Violent Life is a good film. It’s not as violent as you think but it takes unexpected turns as life usually does. Pasolini’s take on the Cain and Abel tale involving a woman is entertaining. Again I really enjoyed the dynamic between the three main characters. The brothers are drowning in their sorrows over their mom’s death and they find this “helpless” beauty to distract them. She is a runaway. All three love each other. It’s when the brothers serve jail time together is when they have their loyalty questioned. The only thing that actually bothered me is how every guy in the A Violent Life is a rapist. By the third time, I was ready to call the quits on the movie. I understand that she represents the devil or “the waves of desire” as the brothers put it because once they start falling for her is when all shit goes to hell. If you can get over the mental rape, and overly religious tones, give A Violent Life a look.