del film "Ormai è fatta!"
I rob you, please?" Outlaw! tells the tale of a gentleman bandit
Outlaw! dir. Enzo Monteleone, 1999. N/R, 95 mins. in Italian,
with subtitles. Stefano Accorsi, Emilio Solfrizzi, Giovanni Esposito,
Fantazzini (Accorsi) is the sort of engaging, likable soul who shares
pictures of his family with bank tellers. As he does so in the opening
moments of Outlaw!, however, he is also robbing a bank, and before
the opening credits are over, Fantazzini,a real-life "gentleman
bandit" from whose memoirs the movie is adapted, has been sentenced
to a 22-years prison stretch for a string of bloodless Italian bank
robberies committed in the early 1970s.
Desperate to be reunited with his wife (Sacchi) and child, Fantazzini
uses a real gun for the first time in an attempted prison escape.
Unfortunately, almost everything goes wrong, and in short order, he
finds himself barricaded in the warden's office with two guards as
his prisoners and three others on the way to the hospital.
Director Monteleone reenacts the hostage drama that follows in a style
that unevenly evokes the self-conscious audacity of the best of American
70s filmmaking. His wide-screen camera either sturters through the
escalating conflicts in the handheld thrusts or obliquely paces away
from the action, adding objectivity andirony to each character's predicament.
The sensitively textured script turns a compassionate yet unblinking
eye on captor, hostages and would be rescuers alike.
"How could you do this to me?" demands the indignant warden,
plucked from his seaside vacation to negotiate with Fantazzini. Somehow,
despite the gravity of drawns guns and a ticking clock, it seems like
a legitimate question.
This borderline absurdity invites comparison less to the quintessential
'70s hostage drama Dog Day Afternoon than Steven Spielberg's Sugarland
Express. And like Sugarland, Outlaw! does at times threaten to veer
from softheartedness to softheadedness.
That's a small price to pay, though, for a film whose primary excess
is indulging a surplus of honestly and sharply drawn characters. The
affection with which Monteleone and his ingratiating cast mix curb-level
intimacy with uncynical detachment makes Outlaw! a pleasure to watch.
(Now playing; Film Forum.)
- Bruce Bennet
Time Out, New York