Ostia: La Finale Notte: Delving into the events leading up to the savage killing of activist and director Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ostia: La Finale Notte grips you from the very first scene. A young man, Pino, is on the telephone, scared and clearly desperate. We are unsure of his role, but sense ill intent. As he meets and leads Paolo on, what Pino has in store for the artist is slowly unveiled.
Ostia plays well on the distinct styling of Pasolini’s own films: every shot is deliberate, and aesthetically stunning. The post-modern narrative and elegant pacing lets you soak up the intrigue and digest the developing plot. There is a looming doom and darkness as the action unfolds. Despite knowing how this story ends, it still manages to sneak up and bludgeon you from out of nowhere. Something so beautiful turns out to be quite deadly, in story and in style.
Each character has intriguing motives, well calculated by the cast and executed gracefully.
Boreham’s integration of a strong, feisty female character, along with a lost, nervous but determined younger man takes you back to Pasolini’s Mamma Roma. Couple this with the delicious film-noir elements, and you have a film that oozes class.
Pino, played by Miles Szanto, successfully drives the emotion of the audience. We pity him, then loathe him; sympathise, then reject him. The best characters in film are never truly sympathetic, and never black and white. We see a man forced to do something terrible, then a man who seems to do terrible things with ease. Up until the final cut you never really know where Pino actually stands in all this, and that makes him fascinating.
At times it does feel as though a prerequisite knowledge of Pasolini is required to get the fullest experience from Ostia. In the film itself he feels a bit bland, and little is revealed about his character to make him engage with an unknowing audience member. Yet pristine execution and masterful storytelling made the film a strong contender at the Iris Prize Festival 2012. Graphic and sexy, Ostia: La Finale Notte is stunning.
Overall Opinion: Natural filmmaking is difficult in this style, yet Craig Boreham has made something that feels elegant and timeless. Evocative, gritty, gorgeous and refreshing. Ostia is a fitting homage to Pasolini.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Hatch, from director Christoph Kuschnig, tells the story of heartbreak and loss on a cold night in Vienna. Milo is an illegal immigrant from Poland reduced to shoplifting to support his young family. He convinces his partner Biljana they cannot make the new life they seek in Austria while raising a baby. Reluctantly they agree to give her up for adoption, leaving her in a ‘hatch’ for unwanted babies. As they walk away, they witness the kidnapping of their baby girl by a man in a luxury car. Devastated, they are unaware the kidnapper, Thomas, is a caring man who’s desperate to have a child in a country where gay couples are unable to adopt. But will Thomas be able to keep a baby taken in such a way?
Given the spectrum of emotions such a series of events would invoke in people facing them, this film and its cast seem delicate and sincere. Each character is believable and sympathetic: you feel for each one as they experience real human trauma, hit with tough decisions and burdened with regret.
Although the pacing is rather slow, the seamless transitions allow you to really appreciate the narrative, the film’s real driving force. Hatch gives you plenty of time to interpret what you see before you; and what you see is very pleasing on the eye. The film’s aesthetic is crisp and cool as the Vienna winter. It keeps a dank and gritty feel as we enter the colourless world of the two immigrants, raising stark contrast to the warm, soft-glow home of the affluent gay couple. The style keeps you feeling uneasy, and never quite comfortable with the apparent resolutions. This is not a happy story, but it certainly is gripping.
It is dark and truly touching, but there is quite a major problem for this film. There is a danger that the message it seeks to convey will be misread. On the surface some may see it as suggesting a risk that desperate gay couples will resort to stealing babies if they do not get adoption rights. This is a shallow interpretation and the fault would ultimately lie with the close-minded viewer who sees it like this.
The true message, that not being given the chance to adopt when all you want is a child is like losing a child itself, is hidden deeper. We can only hope that people receive this message, rather than the former (which would be dangerously incorrect).
However, this flaw could only have arisen with a film brave enough to take on the issue in such an evocative way. Kuschnig should be commended for tackling it, and for creating a truly engrossing and devastating film.
Overall Opinion: Superbly acted, Hatch tells a very difficult story very well. The story loses its grip at times, but you will be taken to the extreme of your emotions as events unfold. Each invoking sorrow and hatred, the lead characters Kuschnig weaves are rich. Superficially, the message is dubious and open to misinterpretation. Yet on closer inspection, Hatch touches on an important issue, portraying brilliantly the potential damage to real people facing it.
Rating: 8 out of 10