Pure Formality, A: Tornatore’s Dark Tale

Italian director Tornatore’s film noir, A Pure Formality, is a dark Kafkaesque crime thriller thst takes place mostly in the confines of a single room.

Though overly theatrical, the film is elevated by the strong acting of Gerard Depardieu and Roman Polanski (better known as an actor)

Gerard Depardieu stars as Onoff, a famous author who has become reculsive and barren; in recent years, he has publishing nothing.  Late one night he is picked up by police officers, who find him running across the French countryside in the rain, breathless and suffering from short-term memory loss.

A murder has been committed in the nearby woods, and the authorities detain him at a leaky, dark command post to await the arrival of an inspector (Roman Polanski), ironically a fan of Onoff’s work, who will interrogate his subject and try to arrive at the truth.

It may or may not be a coincidence that Una Pura Formalita was produced simultaneously with Polanski’s Death and the Maiden (1994), another film based on a stage play about interrogation in a single room during a stormy night.

This movie, which world premiered at the Cannes Film Fest, is a far cry from Tornatore’s international hit, the sentimental and nostalgic Cinema Paradiso, back in  1988.

Giuseppe Tornatore.

Jun 1, 1994 Wide

Jan 30, 1996

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Gérard Depardieu as Onoff

Roman Polanski as Inspector