Cannes Film Fest 2019: Bellochio’s The Traitor Offers Deatiled View of Cosa Nostra

Vet Italian Marco Bellocchio’s latest film, The Traitor (‘Il traditore’), about late Cosa Nostra ‘supergrass Tommaso Buscetta was in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, which ran May 14-25.

In the film, Pierfrancesco Favino, a great Italian actor endowed with strong physical presence and powerful voice, plays Buscetta.

This year, Italy is represented in Cannes by only one film, but over the past decade, there were at least 2 movies in the main lineup.

“Every time a country is not represented, or not sufficiently represented, it seems as if the they have to immediately whip it up,” Bellochio said.

Bellocchio said: “Tommaso Buscetta is a very complex character. I tried to make an open film and his betrayal, too, must be seen in this light.”

“Strangely, it is a very personal film and at the same time objective,” Bellochio said, describing the picture as “a film without ideology or rhetoric.”

The movie, which is confidently directed by the vet director (age 78), is full of vivid details and boisterous moments. However, it presumes that the viewers have some previous information about the Italian mafia figures. Indeed, considering the saga’s running time (close to two and a half hours), in the end, the central figure remains distant and enigmatic.

I doubt if Western (US) audiences will be able to get involved in the saga, which is episodic and consists of memories, voice-overs, and flashbacks. In other words, the tale covers too much ground to make a coherent portrait of its hero/anti-hero and to resonate its intents in a compelling way.