Film Review: Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)

citizenTo follow up my previous piece about the great films showing at Il Cinema Ritrovato next week, I am reviewing another film that will be shown during the festival: Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion, a fascinating, but somewhat forgotten thriller that won the best foreign film Oscar in 1971.

Investigation… concerns a police detective who kills his girlfriend and leaves plenty of evidence behind to prove that he is indeed “above suspicion.” Even after the initial crime he goes out of his way to implicate himself and exonerate other suspects while slowly mentally unraveling due to the stress of not being caught. All of this is set to a backdrop of leftist protestors and widespread government spying, which is legitimized by the conservative government’s fear of the liberal left.

Ultimately an expertly crafted satire, Investigation… is equal parts comedy, giallo and poliziotteschi, or for those who are unfamiliar with Italian cinema, comedy, murder mystery and investigation thriller. The writing is complex and intriguing while the acting is pitch perfect throughout, even though the tone of the film shifts from comedy to taught suspense. Fans of Italian cinema will certainly recognize two of the film’s stars Gian Maria Volonté (For A Few Dollars More, A Fistful Of Dollars) and Florinda Bolkan (A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture A Duckling). And while we’re on the subject of recognition, the score to this film was composed by none other than Ennio Moricone and is certainly one of the most memorable scores of his long and varied career.

Director Elio Petri is well regarded as a political filmmaker, and no matter what genre he is working in he crafts a film with leftist leanings and a political subtext. Investigation…, while an entertaining piece of popular cinema, is also a harsh satirical criticism of the perceived fascist police state of Italy at the time and of the ways in which the police treat everyday citizens and suspects while investigating a crime. While the film ends on an ambiguous note it seems safe to surmise that our protagonist will not be treated in the same manner that we saw other suspects being treated earlier in the film. So what else is there to say other than check this film out? It’s really worth taking advantage of this opportunity to see it on the big screen.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion; Dir: Elio Petri; Starring: Gian Maria Volonté and Florinda Bolkan

This film will screen Thurs, March 19, 7pm, as part of the Il Cinema Ritrovato series at the Granoff Center For The Arts, 154 Angell St, Providence.


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