Rest of the Night, The / Il resto della notte (2008)

5.0 out of 5

Unforgettable losers stuck in a drudgery-ridden city that makes most American 70s landscapes positively uplifting, this character drama about desperate criminals who don't talk Tarantino-speak, is deeply affecting. Not unlike Jerry Schatzberg's Scarecrow or Ulu Grosbard's Straight Time, these Italian and Eastern Europeans are spared little in the bad luck department. They scavenge for their existences with about as much success as Pasolini's slum dwellers in Accatone.

The beautiful Laura Vasiliu, one of the strongest members of the cast, has a breakthrough moment when caught stealing that has the kind of impact found in a DeSica movie. To gush even further, the films unfortunate teenage boy, caught up in the criminal gang's plans, survives one of the best, most subtlely filmed and tragic home invasions, and Stefano Cassetti provides enough black humor as a coke-addled, racist, absent father.

None of the characters become soppy with melodrama. The unresolved ending will, no doubt, please nihilists, but the film also contains hope and this isn't just because Vasilou is a knockout as the film's ragged peasant.

Too many quality crime films that explore criminal psychology, like this one, are being produced in Italy, and they are basically unseen in America. Nearly 20 years post-Pulp Fiction and American film-makers are still presenting, and celebrating, their lawbreakers as cute and cheerfully violent sociopaths. Who also never shut the *beep* up!

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics