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The Seven Works of Mercy

· The Film ·

The clandestine immigrant, Luminita (Olimpia Melinte) survives thanks to pickpocketing at the expense of people at least as badly off as her. And in order to obtain false documents she even kidnaps a sick old man (Roberto Herlitzka). But the encounter of these two is perhaps to open a spiral of humanity. Sette opere di misericordia [The Seven Works of Mercy] (2012) by the brothers Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, is somewhere between the cinema of the Dardenne brothers, because of their style and their attention to social themes, and that of Pasolini, because of the way he portrayed the sub-proletariat within a framework of Christian categories. It undertakes a risky operation: to confirm the need for mercy through its provocative denial. Each of the film’s seven chapters is entitled with the name of one of the seven corporal mercies, but what we see on the screen systematically contradicts them. And the fact that a woman is the protagonist of certain actions further strengthens the provocation. At some points the treatment risks becoming abstract and systematic but then comes back down to earth with the glimmer of a cathartic ending. (emilio ranzato).

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St. Peter’s Square

Aug. 24, 2019

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