Il Pataffio: review of the film by Francesco Lagi

A well-directed and interpreted historical farce that makes you smile without being vulgar

At the cinema since August 18, The Pataffio, a film of which we present the review in this article, is a film written and directed by Francesco Lagi. The film, in costume, boasts a well matched cast of Italian actors: including Alessandro Gassmann, Lino Musella, Giorgio Tirabassi And Valerio Mastandrea. The Pataffio participated in the 75th edition of the Locarno Film Festival. Based on the novel of the same name by Luigi Malerba (Quodlibet 2014), tells a funny and grotesque story, set in the Middle Ages. Come on parody toneslike those of the novel from which it is based, The Pataffio (here the trailer) immediately stands out for the funny linguistic miscellany that distinguishes it. The characters, in fact, speak one macaronic language, semi-Romanesque, semi-Latin with strange and parody influences. It is in effect a medieval microworldlight-hearted like the rowdy protagonists, perennially hungry and unfortunate, who groped their way with unsuccessful attempts, trying, in vain, to revive their lot.

From the beautiful photograph of Diego Romerothe film, also has an agreeable e convincing soundtrackedited by Stefano Bollani. The melodies have something popular, one folk music, sometimes naive like the caricatures that inhabit the Fanta Medioevo Malerbiano. These often act as a curtain to the events that occur between the unfortunate and ridiculous characters of the story, giving a melancholy poetry to events that have nothing of poetry, if not thebittersweet praise of defeat. The style is very close to the classic of Monicelli THERErmata Brancaleone (1966), however, imbued with more pessimism, as, by a nice loser, Brancaleone (played by Vittorio Gassmann) is still a dreamer, if anything mocked by those around him. As a kind of Don Quixote he has the myth of chivalry, despite not having the skills to be a knight.


An Embarrassing Middle Ages – Il Pataffio Review

The Paraffio. Vivo Film with Rai Cinema, in association with Colorado Film Production, in co-production with UMédia

The marconte Cagalanza (played with charisma by Lino Musella) is a stable boy who marries a castellana to raise his status. The dowry for marriage is a castle, which him and the Marcontess Bernarda (Viviana Cangiano) reach by carriage, escorted by a handful of approximate soldiers. The promised castle, however, is actually a caricature: a ruin surrounded by rocky and unproductive areas, a possession without any wealth. The “villans” are hungry and desperate; but the stubborn Cagalanza does not give up. “Overbearing dreamer”, he does not accept the check immediately and forces his ramshackle court to obey his absurd orders, to make the fortress “great”. The situation will only get worse … On the contrary that in L’Brancaleone Army the main character is in his own way a despot, a parvenu, who has been cheated, and who with tooth and nail clings to his farm.

His unlikely ideas, as well as those of his faithful advisor – a very good one Giorgio Tirabassirepresent much of the fun of de The Pataffiotogether with colorful language used. There characterization of the characters is strong: from the rough and questionable friar (Alessandro Gassmann in a rather atypical dress), to the faithful but rambling soldiers (Giovanni Ludeno and Vincenzo Nemolato), to the fat and discontented countess, to the smart and hungry leader of the villagers (Valerio Mastandrea). They are all stereotyped and grotesque figures, specks of a Embarrassing Middle Ages, in which poor and “rich” are actually on the same level. The pomposity of the knighthood is ridiculed and denuded in its underlying mediocrity. Compared to the Brancaleone Army, the tone of a light-hearted chivalrous adventure is missing, while it remains The Pataffio the generalized caricature effect. The tones are actually even more grotesque, even if the direction deals with them gracefully without adopting a foul visual language, just as the black irony is more marked.

Author farce and historical black humor – Il Pataffio review

Il Pataffio the review

The Pataffio. Vivo Film with Rai Cinema, in association with Colorado Film Production, in co-production with UMédia

In this sense The Pataffio It results to be very irreverent, in line with the novel from which it is based. While being made up of episodic situations, the film is quite well stitched together and has a continuous thread in tracing the comic plots of the story. The tone is hilarious and the characters so funny and absurd as to arouse laughter, one bitter laugh which is also mixed with a little pity for these characters losersstubborn and absolutely anti-heroic. Also appreciable i costumes that make the figures iconic. Great merit to the cast that makes a farce credible that, in other hands, would certainly have creaked or risked a childish insanity. The actor’s work is very accurate. The conviction of the performers allows the ramshackle plot to stand firmly on its legs. We could define The Pataffio as a film with historical black humor. D.and the rest is the title itself (Epitaffio) to suggest this line of interpretation.

With due differences, including cultural ones, some English titles come to mind such as Brian Of Nazareth (1979) And The meaning of life (1983) of the group of comedians Monty Python (Graham ChapmanJohn Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin). The Pataffio shares the light-hearted irony and black humor, softer than the sometimes vitriolic one of English films. Furthermore, in Francesco Lagi’s film a basic unity is maintained which is extraneous to the episodic nature of Monty Python’s films. There historical setting then, as much as it is a mockery, it is plausible above all at the scenographic level and this makes the parody effective. The defect of the film is the final part, a little too dry and serious compared to the beginning. Closing the circle with more irony or some odd hope would have paid off The Pataffio less pedantic, at least on the spectator, with more comic than dramatic notes.

Il Pataffio review

The Pataffio. Vivo Film with Rai Cinema, in association with Colorado Film Production, in co-production with UMédia

Rating – 7


Positive sides

  • The excellent evidence from the cast as a whole
  • A convincing and spectacular costume farce

Negative sides

  • The finish is perhaps a bit too bitter

Il Pataffio: review of the film by Francesco Lagi