I understand why a lot of people, especially critics, will enjoy the Italian film BLACK SOULS. After all, it’s beautifully shot, has interesting characters, and it’s about the freakin’ Italian mob. However, it’s one of those movies you need to be in the mood for. Don’t expect fast-paced action and over-the-top scenes like GOODFELLAS; think of this film as a slower GODFATHER. Where this film deviates from the norm is in its realism and modernity. We are used to seeing the gangsters of yesterday, but this shows the day-to-day processes of gangsters today. So much so, if it had been shot with a hand-held camera, I would have believed it was a documentary.
The film follows the Carbone family, especially the three oldest men in the family, Rocco and Luigi, who are leaders in the crime family, and their eldest brother Luciano, who has foregone his stake in the family business to live a life as a farmer in the mountains. When Luciano’s son, Leo, starts causing havoc in their small farming town and ends up under the tutelage of his gangster uncle, it’s obvious that Luciano’s dreams of domesticity aren’t going to last forever. The gangster world is calling, and so is tragedy.
As crazy as it sounds, I hardly have any issues watching human-on-human violence, but really struggle watching movies with any scenes of animal violence, no matter how small. And in BLACK SOULS there were a few scenes of animal violence that made me press the fast-forward button. It just felt too real. That, combined with the slow-burn nature of the storyline, made the film a little hard to get through at times. However, by the end, audience members will be paid off for sticking with the film. The Carbone family drama comes to a head, leaving regret and tragedy in its wake. Are there many gangster movies that don’t end with this feeling?
BLACK SOULS is a fine movie, it just wasn’t for me. I can totally appreciate the accomplishments in the storytelling and filmmaking, especially the choice to be realistic as opposed to sensationalistic. But I guess when it comes down to it, there was too much build, and not enough bang.
My Review: B-/C+