Pier Paolo Pasolini was an outspoken Marxist intellectual and a filmmaker of rare, taboo-busting talent; a man who insisted that “to scandalise is a right, to be scandalised a pleasure.” Director Abel Ferrara clearly views the Italian as a kindred spirit, and his lush, reverent drama charts the director’s final 24 hours, winding towards a fateful rendezvous on the outskirts of Rome.
It makes for a bewitching walk on the wild side, a film full of squalor and beauty, Willem Dafoe is ideally cast as the great director, a raw-boned panther in middle-age. Pasolini is just back from a meeting with Ingmar Bergman. He’s hurrying to edit his ‘120 Days of Sodom’ and already looking ahead to the next movie project.
Yet Pasolini’s existence turns out to be rigidly compartmentalised. Each morning he is woken by a cuddle from his elderly mama. Each evening he prowls for rent boys on the streets beside the station. His Pasolini is terrific; a study in velvety blacks and foggy greens. It’s a work of startling maturity from this incorrigible tearaway, a minor-key dream that finally turns towards darkness.