An oft-forgotten entry in director Dario Argento’s filmography. A historical comedy-drama set during Milan’s anti-Austrian revolt of 1848.
The opening tone proves farcical. Adriano Celentano plays Cainazzo, a prisoner who escapes when a cannonball blows a hole in the city jail. He goes looking for an old compatriot who has become a revolutionary hero.
Along the way, Cainazzo picks up a simpleton sidekick. Together they wander through the chaotic Milan streets, careening from one adventure to another. They deliver a baby, cater a party, join a militia, and find temporary respite with a widow.
The tone darkens as the film unfolds. There’s some bloody violence early, but also plenty of absurdist humor. The violence remains while the humor turns cynical.
Argento stages some memorable shots and the production values prove high throughout. Lots of extras. Blown up buildings. Period dress. The location photography adds welcome verisimilitude to counterpoint the absurdist plot.
But I’m not the biggest fan of farcical humor and nothing here swayed me. Cainazzo’s sidekick, meant to be endearing, tried my patience. The dramatic beats didn’t work for me either, given the farcical origins. I never felt invested in the characters and the big emotional third-act sequence felt overwrought and forced.
But I loved the scathing ending.