“The Embalmer” (First Run Features0 is a profound psychological study that hooks you from the first scene and pulls you into a pool of intrigue that tries to pull you under. It is a story of desire for what one cannot have but the way he goes about trying to get it.
This is one of those movies that is definitely not for everyone—a love story that transcends understanding and toys with the notions of relationship and sexuality. Based on a true story, it is directed by Italian director Matteo Garrone. Garrone tries to abstract universal thought by using time in unusual ways. The beautiful photography is obscured by foggy uncertainty and this adds to the felling the movie places on the audience.
I am not sure how to classify this film—it is neither a thriller nor a love story but then again, it is a little of each. It is, in effect, something unique ad different tat gets under the skin. It is a wonderful movie for those who understand what it is all about.
Ernesto Mahieux as Peppino the embalmer gives a performance of sheer acting beauty. He is hard to look at being short and ugly but he can act. His embalmer is a complicated man who inhabits a body not wanted by anyone. Likewise no one can satisfy his need for love. He persuades a very handsome man to come to work for him and he shows his new protégé a good home. He also hires prostitutes to entertain them both but he doesn’t look at the girls, he looks hard and long at the handsome Valerio, his new assistant. Valerio’s girlfriend notices this and the race is on to see who will win his affections.
The film is moody and compelling as it focuses on a relationship of hopeless repressed gay love. It approaches the plot with care and the background gives us an immediate feel and support for the main character, as homely as he is. Peppino is a master and like a magician he moves his hands and talks without revealing much. When the final credits roll, the film stays with you as it taps into something deeply human, something very, very disturbing about people. The story may not be your cup of teas but you are not able to judge the emotions behind it especially if you have loved somebody. Garrone emerges as a hero full of dark passion.
The cinematography has a lot to do with the success of the film—the director uses the scenery to display emotion and this is aided by the natural lighting and the haunting musical score.
This catagory-less film evokes strong thought and opinion as a twisted love story unfolds before our eyes. The actors are great as is the script an all things taken together the film is a true work of cinematic art.