Nashville Scene

DIRECTED BY: Gianni Amelio

REVIEWED: 03-23-98

In poverty-stricken Albania, two Italian con men scheme to set up a fly-by-night manufacturing plant and make off with government capital. But they need an Albanian citizen to serve as the dummy president. Where to find a patsy? In prison, where a World War II fascist fighter (Michele Placido) has lost all track of family and time during 50 years of communist rule. With this humane, immensely moving satire, director Gianni Amelio (Stolen Children) emerges as the true heir to De Sica and Rossellini--not because he's a slave to neorealist tradition, but because he states bedrock human conflicts so simply that they have the symbolic force of silent cinema. What stays with you are the faces of the destitute Albanians--especially Placido, whose rumpled decency and incredible good humor will break your heart--and the movie's sustained closing note of desperate, maybe unwarranted hope.

--Jim Ridley

Capsule Reviews

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