July 15, 2011

ALL 5 VOWELS:

In Sunny Rome, Solving a Murder Involves Sharp Suits and Sexy Talk (GINIA BELLAFANTE, July 14, 2011, NY Times)

The films find Zen on the murder squad in Rome, where, despite a wardrobe and comportment that suggest Marcello Mastroianni in the 1960s, he is living with his mother at the age of 40. Zen is brought to us by Rufus Sewell, an Englishman whose Mediterranean good looks contain enough intelligence to make the character’s complexity resonant. He plays Zen with a perfectly rendered sense of professional confidence and romantic hesitancy, a blend of quiet rectitude and erotic bemusement.

Romance is an essential component of the equation. As Zen tackles one difficult case after another, balancing his own sense of justice against the imperatives of higher-ups, he begins to fall for the precinct secretary, Tania Moretti, played by the exquisitely beautiful Italian actress Caterina Murino as a woman dealing with the rubble of her own crumbling relationship.

Still, there is nothing of the morose in this trilogy, which makes it a welcome antidote to the craze for the grimness and melancholy of the unstoppably popular Scandinavian crime genre. Aesthetically, the Zen films are as distant from something like “The Killing,” AMC’s recent take on a Danish detective series, as an early James Bond movie is from an episode of “24.”

The films deploy a light comic sensibility and graphics that suggest a ‘60s caper. They situate us in a Rome where the weather always seems heavenly, blouses are always unbuttoned suggestively, and no lunch transpires without multiple courses and repeated instances of sexual innuendo.


Posted by at July 15, 2011 5:16 AM
  

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