This is the second release from MHZ International Mystery’s line of Italian crime dramas we’re covering and it’s a double feature! These two TV movies were produced independent of each other and years apart, but are tied together by their lead subjects. The films are the true stories of a pair of judge friends who were instrumental in bringing down the Sicilian Mafia in the 80’s and early 90’s. The first film, Giovanni Falcone: The Judge follows the titular judge as he unmasks the mafia by tracing their money stream in the 1980’s. The second film, Borsellino, The 57 Days, follows Giovanni’s friend Paolo Borsellino as he works against the mafia while being a man marked for death. These films show just how monumental these two men were to Italy. They are both portrayed as national heroes who fought for justice and use copious amounts of real footage from their funerals.
Giovanni Falcone: The Judge starts in 1980 and follows Giovanni’s career all the way up until his death in 1992. He is a Sicilian judge who notices that relatives of mafia members are married to specific politicians and industrialists. From these connections he follows money transfers that draw a map of the drug flow to America and the money coming back to the mafia. As he makes arrests and experiences success in his war against the mafia, he, his friends, and family increasingly become targets of assassination attempts. The movie is presented in two parts and runs about three hours long in total. The film an interesting piece of history and Massismo Dapporto is excellent in the role of Giovanni but much of the crime drama feels very by the numbers. The filmmakers focused more on fitting in all the events of his inspection work rather than picking a few to build a gripping story; the mafia that he hunts are never even portrayed on screen. There’s also an overly long romance subplot that distracts from the main story arc rather than compliments it.
Borsellino: The 57 Days stars Luca Zingaretti as judge Paolo Borsellino. The story picks up just about where The Judge leaves off, with the death of Falcone (its not a spoiler, its history). This film is a much more character driven tale, dealing with the loss of Falcone and its impact on Paolo. He is now next in line to carry on the fight against La Cosa Nostra and in just as much danger. He begins searching for why Falcone was killed and finally meets an informer with explosive information. There’s a lot more emotion and tension built in this film and it makes for much more compelling viewing. Paolo’s relationship with his family is really the center of the film. It’s only drawback is that the story relies on the viewer being very aware of who Giovanni and Paolo were and what they did. If you watch these films in reverse order you might end up a little lost about what’s going on.
Available now on Amazon from MHz International Mysteries, click HERE!
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.