Monday, November 18, 2013

#682: Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

(Elio Petri, 1970)

Note: There's a chance that if you've seen a movie I'll reference I am about to ruin the ending of this movie, so if you care about that sort of thing, stop reading.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is a direct precursor to American Psycho, to the degree that I'm shocked at how little this connection is discussed. Basically, the movie is to fascism what that movie was to capitalism, and it's just as biting, hilarious, and challenging intellectually. Of course, this movie came out thirty years before that one and nearly two decades before the book upon which that was based, so there's a pretty good case for the film as a cutting-edge satire ahead of its time.

Of course, the film fits perfectly into its era of Italian filmmaking, and makes a nice double feature with Marco Ferreri's Dillinger Is Dead from the previous year. Both films are major send-ups of Italian masculinity, and derive much of their pleasure from the unexpected actions of their main character and how they subvert expectations of their characters. Petri's film is more immediately engaging, no doubt, because the narrative is structured in such an engaging way. I guess it's a bit like Absolute Power, where a murder is shown in great detail but we don't know who the perpetrator is until the big reveal afterwards (is that too obscure of a reference now?). Either way, it starts the film off right and sets the tone for what is one of the most entertaining recent Criterion releases - and one of the best.

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