In its tale of childhood friends who grow up to be on opposite sides of the law, Edoardo Winspeare’s Brave Men is an all too familiar one. A prominent judge, Ignazio (Fabrizio Gifuni) returns to his hometown to bury his friend Fabio (Lamberto Probo) who died from a drug overdose, and, in an attempt to draw something constructive from the painful episode, joins a task force that is investigating local drug traffickers who helped feed his self-destructive habit. His immediate connection with the past is mutual friend, Lucia (Donatella Finocchiaro), an attractive, single mother whose seemingly strained relationship with her former lover, a local mobster named Infantino (Beppe Fiorello) makes her an obvious choice to mine for information. From the onset, Lucia proves to be far from the upstanding perfume salesperson she seems, using her nefarious connections to try to root out Fabio’s supplier and intimidating rival gangs into forging an alliance with elusive crime boss, Carmine Zà (Giorgio Colangeli). But as the investigation converges towards Lucia’s complicity in the escalating mob war, Ignazio is also forced to reconcile his own unrequited feelings towards her, only to lose his objectivity and sense of moral duty in the process. Actress Donatella Finocchiaro commented during the Q&A that the film strives to capture the drug war climate of the late 1980s Italy when low level criminals started forming alliances among themselves to consolidate their power as a means of challenging established organizations. However, far from insightful commentary into the psychology and mechanics of gangland power play, Brave Men devolves into facile characterizations, glossing over deeply rooted socioeconomic issues (alluded in the disparity between Ignazio’s privileged upbringing and Lucia’s poverty that would separate them) in favor of a conventional mood piece on loss, fear, and desire.
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