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Review: Black Souls (Anime Nere)

9 min read
Vitagraph Films' "Black Souls"

For some people, getting into the family business is something that’s expected and considered honorable. The profession is usually something you’re familiar with, and you’re usually welcomed with the various arms of the family being open and ready to accept you. In Italy’s Black Souls (Anime Nere), we’re introduced to someone who’s in a position just like that, but unlike most others, the business his family is in comes with plenty of risks and almost certain calamity for those who choose to walk that path.

The youngster who’s choosing to try his hand at his family’s business goes by the name of Leo (Guiseppe Fumo). He’s been living under his father’s rules, but he has a burning desire to see that change sooner rather than later. Instead of continuing on a path that would see him live the kind of simple life that his father leads, Leo wants to follow in the footsteps of Luigi Carbone (Marco Leonardi), his law-breaking uncle who makes his living in the world as an international drug dealer.

The plot sounds intriguing, but if you ever decide to watch Black Souls, it’s best to know beforehand that this Italian mobster flick takes its sweetest of time to get to anything relevant within in the story. It’s really takes a good forty minutes before we get to something that’s truly important to the plot. There are a few scenes before that point that assist in moving all of this stuff along, but most of it is empty and just takes up time.

After that portion of the film, another twenty minutes or so goes by before we can say that everything is finished being set up. Obviously, the problem with that is that there’s only about forty something minutes remaining in the film. With that being the case, there clearly isn’t a whole bunch of time left to do much when it comes to delivering any thrills or sense of entertainment to viewers. Just reading what I said let’s you know what you’re in for to an extent, because there is clearly a lack of legitimate material being served up to us.

Now with the small amount of material that’s included, audiences will get some good stuff out of it, but it’s unfortunate that we are forced to sit through so many irrelevant scenes to get to it. Some of what is included in the latter portions could have been moved up earlier in the film to make it move a bit faster, but that would have been asking the filmmakers to include other things besides people talking and having dinner. I’m saying this in no way to disrespect them, but it appears like they couldn’t come up with much in terms of ideas in order to accomplish that.

The structure of Black Souls is certainly weird. As a matter of fact, it’s so awkward, that it’s hard to stay focused on what’s happening. I guess this also has to do with the lack of emotion being included with the lack of everything else. You’re waiting for things to truly take shape and pull you in, but you’ll just notice that you’re waiting and waiting and waiting until those final forty something minutes. As it turns out, Black Souls is more of a test of patience than it is a cinematic experience.

From a technical standpoint, the film is fine. It looks good, it feels good, but it just doesn’t want to give us anything in terms of an actual story. The only thing that really holds it together is the acting. This is certainly the strongest aspect of the film. They all try their best, so they need to be given credit for what they are able to do. If not for these guys, Black Souls would have died a long, agonizing death. They are great, but they were in serious need of help from any kind of a legitimate script.

If you’re able to maintain your focus through the entire movie or just some how survive until the film reaches the final twenty minutes or so, you’ll finally be introduced to the best features within the film outside of the acting. You’ll find what’s here to be captivating. This is what you would be waiting for, because it manages to say something with a powerful payoff that we expect from films like this. Other than that, you would simply be wasting your time even trying to pay attention to Black Souls.

Rating: Unrated

Director: Francesco Munzi

Fabrizio Ferracane
Guiseppe Fumo
Marco Leonardi
Peppino Mazzotta
Anna Ferruzzo
Barbora Bobulova

Film Length: 108 minutes

Release Dates:
September 18, 2014 (Italy)
April 9, 2015 (Limited U.S.)
May 22, 2015 (U.S. Expanded)

Distributor: Vitagraph Films


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