Lucio Gaudino Lucio Gaudino: "Prime Luci dell 'Alba" - A sensitive Mafia Story

Von Cristina Moles Kaupp

An Italian film that brings together what can't be joined: The love story of two very different brothers who fail to bond and of the Mafia's murderous grip.

And now, the sentimental one. It leads to Sicily, to a nameless town held by the Mafia. Once again, two people have fallen - the parents of two very different brothers, Edo and Saro. The older brother, Edo (Gianmarco Tognazzi), has long since fled to the north and become a successful engineer. Saro (Francesco Giuffrida) has fewer opportunities. The 20-year-old is bound to a wheelchair and has given himself to a dark world of ghosts and omens. Evenings, he prays for his parents' salvation, then jerks off and feels rotten about it, as he confesses to his brother once he returns after several years.

It's difficult for Edo to find his way in Saro's world. He's not sure how long he'll be staying in their hometown - only that he doesn't feel too comfortable there. He doesn't know the people anymore and his odd brother is increasingly becoming a burden. Because he has to hold himself up as a living example, a mirror of a world Saro has long since retreated from out of fear. The younger brother only grows more single-minded, demanding of Edo not only that he share his fate but also face down the Mafia that has stifled life in the south.

But both are too weak to go charging windmills, and director Lucio Gaudino doesn't place too much value in the usual revenge stories, either. Instead, he'd like to have told the sensitive story of a coming together, of the murderous horror reflected in its victims' eyes. Unfortunately, he's only partially successful - the arc of suspense is stretched too modestly. To make up for it, the camera probes the admittedly sympatico faces for emotions and blows them up to inflationary close-ups and, in order to grant the dumb spirits invisible depth of the soul, there's a constant chirping of violins in the background. But just as one wonders with an inward grumble whether or not anything is going to actually happen in "First Light of Dawn", the first of the final credits are already climbing up the screen. Aha.

"Prime Luci dell´Alba" ("First Light of Dawn"). Italy, 1999. Directed by Lucio Gaudino. Screenplay by Nicola Molino. Camera: Felice de Maria. With: Gianmarco Tognazzi, Francesco Giuffrida and Laura Morante. Distributed by Intra Films. 86 minutes.

Translated by David Hudson

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