THE CUT AND thrust of child trafficking in the skanky Italian village of Castel Volturno in Naples is the central focus of Vice of Hope, a beautifully told and immensely balanced tale of guttural possibility told through carefully constructed symbols in Italian with English-subtitles directed by Edoardo De Angelis and screened at this year’s European Film Festival in various South African venues.
Featuring a blend of music that segues seamlessly into the heart of the narrative and leaves you quivering in response, this film is about defying gravity and a reflection of heroin addiction as a velvet coat. But it is the blend of horror and poetry woven together around young pregnant women with no hope of motherhood that gives this slightly fantastic and deeply grubby tale the wings of fire to fly beyond the brutal or the commonplace.
Maria (Pina Turco) is a young sex worker committed to a baby marketing racket. The complexity of her life and her history is developed and explained as the work unfolds, revealing cruelty and kindness as uncomfortable bedfellows. Toss in a white Pit-bull terrier called Dog, a horse in a pen and a man rejected by the community for a crime he did not commit, and the story runs like a juddering, uncatchable whirligig around a disused amusement park.
But it is the fierceness with which God is addressed in this tale of friendship and loss in a context of selfishness and bad feelings, and beauty in unexpected corners that will grab you by the throat and won’t let go. Vice of Hope could have been a dismal work set in a context where everything is dull, murky and evil, but it’s not. Sensitively written with particularly robust performances from Turco, Nancy Colarusso as the slightly deformed child called Virgin and Massimiliano Rossi in the role that evokes the complexity of the Peter Grimes anti-hero in the eponymous poem by George Crabbe, this is a compelling biblical trope, with a spot of fantasy and a sparkle of dreams mixed with how fate can give medical promises the finger.
You will love this film not only for its narrative that balances motifs throughout the work, which of course, includes the blue crocheted blanket which filters through the work as a fabric of sanctuary and an indicator of the past. You will also love this work for its understanding of how music interfaces with life and for the sheer immensity of Turco’s beauty.
- Vice of Hope is directed by Edoardo De Angelis and features a cast headed by Jane Bobkova, Nancy Colarusso, Marina Confalone, Cristina Donadio, Odette Gomis, Juliet Esey Joseph, Demi Licata, Imma Mauriello, Pietra Montecorvino, Maria Angela Robustelli, Marcello Romolo, Massimiliano Rossi, Pina Turco and Yvonne Zidiouemba. It is written by Umberto Contarello and Edoardo De Angelis and produced by Edoardo De Angelis, Attilio De Razza and Pierpaolo Verga, it features creative input by Enzo Avitabile (music), Ferran Paredes (cinematography), Chiara Griziotti (editing), Costanza Boccardi (casting), Carmine Guarino (production design) and Massimo Cantini Parrini (costumes). It is part of the European Film Festival, screening in several South African outlets during November and December 2019.