Tony's Take

THE TRAITOR review

The Takedown of the Century

Over the course of the mid-1900s, Cosa Nostra was a dynamic force in Sicily.  Better known as the Mafia, they were know all around the Globe and feared as well.  They used their means to secure ownership, wealth, and crime until they grew hungrier for more.  During the 1960s, Cosa Nostra began focusing on drugs, namely heroin, as an attempt to grow their riches.  In order to escape, Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino) fled to Brazil, leaving his wife and family behind in Sicily.  He created a new life, one with a new wife and new children in his new country; until one day, his past caught-up with him.  Cosa Nostra had a major rife in the ranks, as dozens of murders and executions were being carried out suspiciously.  After the murder of his two sons (and an extradition), Buscetta found himself back home, in prison.  Fed-up with the actions and what Cosa Nostra had become, he began working as a collaborator with Judge Giovanni Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi).  After 45 days of revelation, the information gained proved to me immeasurable and one of the greatest criminal trials began.

Director Marco Bellocchio delivers a strong, informative biography on some of the darkest days in Italian history.  But make no mistake, this is not your typical “mob movie”; more so it revolves around the mafia.  Subtitled in its entirety, “The Traitor”, or authentically-titled “Il Traditore”, is spoken in either Italian, Sicilian, Spanish, or Portuguese.  Thankfully so, as the film feels incredibly real and authentic to the viewer.  However, the star of the film is Pierfrancesco Favino.  He is stunning and captivating; he commands the screen while you hang on his every word.  He’s had small roles in a few major films, such as: “Angels and Demons”, “World War Z”, and “Rush”, but this is his true, defining career moment.  I can’t wait to he does next!  The supporting cast is strong, with many small-but-impactful performances from Luigi Lo Cascio, Fausto Russo Alesi, Maria Fernanda Candido, Fabrizio Ferracane, and Nicola Cali just to name a few.  The authentic cast truly gives the film a unique feel, but one that is entirely needed.

“The Traitor” spans decades during its long-winded story, but there was so much that happened (and even more that surely was left out) that needed to be told or shown.  The film does a great job at staying fresh courtesy of the filmmaker’s storytelling techniques.  The film is not shown in complete-chronological order.  There are a variety of flashbacks and some “dream” moments that serve the narrative but also keeps the film moving.  Sadly, I’m sure this will only re-ignite the debate about long films.  While this doesn’t hit the length of Scorsese’s “The Irishman” (210 minutes), Bellocchio’s “The Traitor” runs at 145 minutes here, but the reason is the same; there is a large, detailed story to tell and it must be done so correctly.

Though we are just removed from our current Awards Season, I firmly expect to see “The Traitor” on many shortlists next year for Best International Film.  It is thoroughly-entertaining and informative and I can only hope this finds an audience.  As an Italian myself, I had a blast!

 4/5

THE TRAITOR (Il Traditore) is rated R for violence, sexual content, language and brief graphic nudity, in theaters FEBRUARY 21ST!