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Directors: Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza
CIFF Screenings: October 20, 2013 (6:15pm), October 22, 2013 (8:00pm)
Salvo is about the eponymous Salvo, a hitman for the Sicilian mafia, who inexplicably shows grace on the blind sister, Rita, of a mob boss that betrayed and took a hit on him. After taking her to an abandoned warehouse for protection, the mafia questions whether he completed the job or not. Once they find out that he kept the visually-impaired witness alive, Salvo must find a way to protect both of their lives.
The first half of Salvo is amazing, shot in extremely low lighting/high shadows, with the pinnacle of the first half being a long, quiet cat-and-mouse between Salvo and Rita in the latter’s house. The scene begins with her listening to the radio counting money to frighteningly wandering around her house, both in search of the silent assassin and not displaying awareness of his presence. The cinematography in the scene is shot spectacularly with long shots that build the already high tension of the scene.
However, once the scene is over and the film moves into the second half where Salvo keeps Rita “safe” in the aforementioned warehouse, the film’s tone drops out from a cerebral psychological thriller into a meditative, quiet character study. Normally, I’m a fan of such films, but the shift in nature just made Salvo feel like two incomplete halves rather than one full package. There are some plot holes and lingering questions, the most problematic of these is the true nature of Rita’s disability, which itself leads to the majority of plot holes. A simple explanation or exposition on her case would have cleared many of the narrative problems up, but much like the first half of Salvo, audiences are left in the dark wanting more.
Score: 6 out of 10