La Scorta (1993)

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*. Well, this one was nothing at all like what I was expecting.
*. What I was expecting was Euro-Hollywood, the Untouchables go to Sicily: gunfights, action sequences, car chases, things blowing up.
*. Here there is one car blowing up. We see the aftermath of shootings, but no gun fights. There are lots of people brandishing machine guns and pistols but I don’t think we ever see one being fired outside of the target range. There are tense scenes on the road where we think something might happen (like with the parked car, or outside the locked gate), but nothing ever does.
*. The goal was to make a suspenseful movie without action scenes. It’s a movie firmly grounded in reality, inspired by true events, which renders those events in an almost documentary style befitting a team of men just going about their professional duties.
*. Tognazzi thought of the movie as a coming-of-age story, with the judge as a father figure and his bodyguards as his sons. I don’t see this, and think such an interpretation diminishes the escort considerably. They are the judge’s guardians, not the other way around.
*. Score by Ennio Morricone. Just how many has he done? Does anyone know? I wonder if it’s even possible to come to an exact count.
*. I’ve watched it several times now and I’ll confess I still don’t understand the plot: what case the judge was working on and who was scheming against him. This is another weird thing about the movie. Usually in a police procedural like this the plot is something you have fun unpacking. Here it’s almost beside the point.

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*. Even the bad guys are left out. We only see and hear the mafia at a remove: photographed from a distance or listening to their conversations over a wiretap. We don’t really know who they are or what they’re up to, just that they represent a threat.
*. I wonder how many different Argyle sweaters Enrico Lo Verso wore in this movie. There must have been half a dozen. Which is fine, but he should never have tucked the one into his jeans. That’s a bad look on anyone.
*. It was filmed mostly on location in Sicily, which is a place I’ve never been. Is the light there so harsh? At times here it seems to almost have a bleaching effect.
*. Is it because it’s an Italian movie that we spend so much time seeing people buying food, preparing meals and eating? Whether it’s an Italian thing or not, it’s a way of using domestic detail to ground us even more in the real lives of these people.

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*. I quite like this one, but I’m not entirely sure why. It’s a snapshot of some characters who work very well together, going about their business. As noted earlier, the plot is a throwaway and doesn’t lead to any sort of resolution other than the rather downbeat dispersal of the team to new, utterly meaningless postings and none of the bad guys brought to justice.
*. But maybe that’s the quiet point that’s being made. There’s a realism here not just in how the film was made but in its quiet, almost indirect message about the power of systemic corruption. It’s not just that the good guys don’t win, but that they are defeated in a way that effectively erases them, exiting not with a bang but a whimper.

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