Directed by Abel Ferrara.
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Cristina Chiriac, Marco Leonardi, Asia Argento, Vincenzo Crea, Luca Lionello, Brando Pacitto, Stella Mastrantonio, Salvatore Ruocco, Federico Majorana, Michelangelo Dalisi, Martina Gatti, Alessio Montagnani, Roberta Mattei, Ermanno De Biagi, Alessandro Cremona , Ignazio Oliva, Valeria Correale, Federica Dordei, Piergiuseppe Francione, Anna Ferrara and Francesco D’Angelo.
World War I has ended, but the events surrounding the first free elections in Italy threaten to tear the town apart. Padre Pio wrestles with his own personal demons and eventually emerges to become one of the most revered figures in Catholicism.
The latest from co-writer/director Abel Ferrara (who seems to be working and putting out movies into old age more often than at any point in his career, but with impressive dips in quality, proving that maybe there’s something to Quentin) . Tarantino’s insistence on retiring after ten directing efforts), padre pio (written with Maurizio Braucci) is a tale of two stories set in an impoverished Italian town after World War I, with socialism on the rise and about to collide with fascism and culminate in a radical political choice. Somewhere off to the side is the eponymous friar who has begun his duties and is on a spiritual journey of redemption and enlightenment that sounds all too familiar to the star, Shia LaBeof’s personal struggles, and real-life demons.
While I am a firm believer that the real lives of actors should not cloud the judgment of film critics and that there is nothing wrong with taking on a role that blends fact and fiction to get to the core of those struggles and overcome an inner pain , once Shia LaBeouf broke the news that honey boya movie that sold as a story about his tough childhood, including an abusive father, was mostly a bunch of bullshit in search of an Oscar nomination and viewer sympathy in the hope of forgiveness (something that has already been granted more than once) for alarming behavior. I don’t give a shit anymore watching him act out moral and spiritual crises on screen as a metaphor to atone for his troublesome actions, find God, and become a better person.
Plus, Shia LaBeouf is awful here anyway, somehow feeling completely out of place in a movie where everyone else is Italian and doesn’t render English dialogue convincingly. Again, his work offering guidance to impoverished locals also doesn’t intersect much with the core of the story (unless one stretches too far for a thematic crossover), which is a dramatically empty socialist uprising of over-served and mistreated citizens. work (one of them dies during slave labor). The dismal performances aren’t the actors’ fault, but Abel Ferrara doesn’t help himself by filming many of the equally dull scenes, where the whole thing feels like an amateur play.
There are traces of the Abel Ferrara style, with Padre Pio hallucinating various temptations from the devil, with hypnotic blue lighting amidst relative darkness, but it falls short of convincing as that character is simply boring and strangely played by Shia LaBeouf , who at one point begins yelling “shut the fuck up” at someone after their deeply disturbing confession. It’s one of the most American performances imaginable that doesn’t fit into this Italian story.
That story here is fascinating to a degree, so unfortunately Abel Ferrara seems more concerned with tweaking everything about it to fit within the shape of Shia LaBeouf’s abilities, which are terrible here anyway, though. nuances or depth. There are moments within the plot of the uprising that overcome these limitations and drawbacks, most notably the tragic and bloody climax, but otherwise, padre pio is another recent flop from Abel Ferrara. Now that’s hard to forgive.
Blinking Myth Rating – Movie: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]