Confessions of a Police Captain/Review

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< Confessions of a Police Captain

LiPuma (Adolfo Lastretti) is released from a mental hospital and two days later commits an armed raid on the office of the architect Lomunno (Luciano Catenacci), who is not present, however. Both Commissioner Bonavia (Martin Balsam) and attorney Traini (Franco Nero) deal with the case. While Bonavia believes that someone has warned the architect, Traini tries to get in touch with Lomunno, who tells him that men of great wealth and power were behind the assassination. Traini slowly begins to doubt the integrity of Bonavia and increasingly suspects him to be involved in it ...

Although they are superficially associated with the genre of police thrillers or Gialli, director Damiano Damiani always links his films with politically or socially critical motifs. So he does with "Confessione di un commissario di polizia al procuratore della repubblica", which in English means "Confessions of a police commissioner before the prosecutor of the republic". This film even drew two pseudo-sequels with "Istruttoria è chiusa: dimentichi" (The Case Is Closed, Forget It) and "Perché si uccide un magistrato?" (Why Does One Kill a Magistrate?) that are of a similarly cynical view of Italian society and politics, but don’t have much else in common with "Confessions…". In both works Franco Nero plays the main role while everyone around him seems to have to do with crime and corruption of any sort. In "Istruttoria è chiusa: dimentichi" he portrays an educated architect who ends up in prison and in "Perché si un uccide magistrato?" he embodies a director who, in his latest feature film, clearly draws parallels to the attorney Traini, who already seems to be stuck deeply in the jungle of corruption.

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In "Confessions…", Commissioner Bonavia is a cop who has pursued his profession for many years, has a cynical world view and already knows for a long time he can’t fight crime according to the official rules. He has been trying to catch Ferdinando Lomunno for quite some time Ferdinando Lomunno, who exploits his workers and is not afraid to kill in order to get what he wants. Bonavia suspects Lommuno and the leading heads of the city government to work hand in hand while some of their operations are kown to him. He just lacks the necessary evidence to do them in. Attorney Traini, still at the beginning of his career, is fairly new in the city and rather quickly informed by Bonavia that the great men of the city have not only one skeleton in the closet. A problematic perspective for Traini, who still believes in old values and justice​​. Inevitably, the different views of Bonavia and Traini begin to clash. Traini embodies the conscious lawyer who adheres to the laws and firmly believes in the justice system. He can’t identify with Bonavias’ suspicions and cynical world of view. These two men face each other on two completely contrasting positions, although both actually should pursue the same goal. Traini as a young and dutiful man on the way up, Bonavia as a man who is now totally disillusioned by the experience of his profession.

"Confessions of a Police Captain" focuses primarily on its two main characters. The dialogues between the two are very important for the movie, constantly things are happening so that the story is constantly evolving. You should pay close attention to be able to understand the whole context. Unlike many other Italian thrillers around that time, action scenes do not really matter here. Even when there is a wild shootout at the beginning, this only serves as a springboard for the story to get going. The screenplay focuses more on the tensions between Bonavia and Traini and their personal development during the events. Although the film is rather heavy with dialogue, the debates between Traini and Bonavia make up the films atmosphere.

As it is very often in Damiani’s movies, people in leadership positions, either in politics or in business, are not portrait in a good light. The top government or ruling classes are represented as a composite of various corrupt persons to whom the only things that count are their own interests and profits. Traini, with his adherence to law and order, doesn’t fit into this world but has to learn how to deal with it. The film makes those appear as losers who remain honest and abide the laws, while seemingly corruption and abuse of power have to offer a more lucrative way of life.

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The DVD by Wild East (Double feature with Summertime Killer) presents the film in an ok shape. As the English title is seen in the opening credits , one can assume that an English master was available to work with. Even though picture damage is hard to discover, sharpness rarely achieves optimal value​​. In some scenes the image is blurred and not very sharp, while in other scenes the sharpness technically looks pretty good. Grain can hardly be discerned, the colors are relatively ok and the contrast is at an acceptable level. The sound shows its age though for it creaks and rustles for most of the movie. The only option here is English language, there are no subtitles available. Amongst the disc's extra features are a 24 minute interview with Franco Nero in which he talks about the making of the film and an impressively extensive image gallery.

Verdict: Despite too much dialogue and the subject of a purebred political thriller "Confessions…" remains a very exciting and highly recommended film with two very convincing main characters and a just not very optimistic ending. The camera work alternates between scenes with elaborate camera movements and documentary-inspired hand-held camera shots, which gives the film a certain dynamic. Responsible for the camera work is Mario Vulpiani. Riz Ortolani’s soundtrack should also be mentioned for it is a really great one that sticks in mind.

Reviewed by Daevid Binzel

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