He salutes a very important feat of the Italian championship – diversity

Edoardo De Angelis’ war story has a family message that’s more noble than action.

The main character of “Comandante”, Salvatore Todaro (Pierfrancesco Favino), is a submarine captain in the Italian Royal Navy with a different spirit than the military we encounter in the films. It’s definitely strong enough – a bruise with a dark edge. “Comandante” is set during the early days of World War II (September-October 1940), and as Salvatore commands the crew of the Cappellini, an iron-hulled underwater ship equipped with dozens of torpedoes and a pair of machine guns, he is unabashed in his dedication to blowing up his enemies.

But he’s also a sad romantic warrior with a poet’s heart. As the men prepare to board the submarine, Salvatore gathers them for a pep talk, and his appearance is striking: the brown leather double-breasted coat, the coiffed hair and thick beard, the gleam of burnt fatalism. Favino looks like a darker version of Bruce McGill. For all his Stoic power, there is a civil quality of introspection in him. He orders one of the sailors to leave the party and stay ashore, for reasons that are not explained until later, when we learn that the sailor has been taken ill to the hospital, where he almost dies. Salvatore was saving his life, and he does so with the power of a clairvoyant.

Later, after a machine gunner was wounded in an attack, Salvatore sewed up the head wound himself, and ordered the cook to prepare the men’s gnocchi; You can tell how much it lifts their spirits because of how calm they feel when they eat it. In most military dramas, the soldiers wear uniforms, which makes our responses to them…a bit standardized. In “Comandate,” the crew members wear dirty tank tops and look brash, rough, and slapped in the back. men More than marine fighters. The movie tells a true story, but it is not a historical action movie. It is a World War II drama as a subdued anti-thriller.

At times, “Comandante” might remind you of “Das Boot,” because it has elements in common with Wolfgang Petersen’s 1981 landmark: the terrifying personality of the captain, the grim European crew, and the fact that in both cases our heroes are fighting. fascist regime. (In “Comandante,” Il Duce gets booed occasionally.) But “Das Boot” was defined by the logistics of battle—sliding from claustrophobia to danger and back again. Following Salvatore’s memoir-like ideas (which we hear on the soundtrack), “Comandate” has a solid, sometimes slightly sexy quality, but most of the film is a bit sloppy. Had director and co-writer Eduardo De Angeli fleshed out the characters more, the film might have had a heavier sense of drama, but “Comandante”, in its lighthearted and slightly darker way, was conceived as the film’s delivery system. Humanitarian massege.

In the second half, the Cappellini was attacked by the Belgian merchant ship Caballo. The submarine has little trouble getting the steamer out of the water, but this leaves the 26 Belgian soldiers stranded in a pair of lifeboats. Technically, the Belgians are neutral in the war, but Salvatore knows that they were carrying aircraft parts for the British; They are preparing to take sides. However, he ordered the survivors to be brought aboard the submarine, so that they could be taken to the refuge of Santa Maria Island, a two-day journey away. And at that moment, their humanity is more important than winning the war, even if it means violating military rules. This is the solemn event that the film builds towards (from the director’s words: “Salvatore knows the eternal laws that govern the sky and the sea, and knows that they are superior to any other law”).

“Comandante” has been selected to open the Venice Film Festival after Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers,” a tennis drama starring Zendaya, withdrew due to strikes by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA. And while “Comandate” seems designed to make Italian audiences feel good about themselves and their history (which is fine; that’s the only thing war movies do), the prospects for this hook to the American market seem limited. Not that the movie needs more action; It could have used a more straightforward and less random story. Vittorio (Massimiliano Rossi), Salvatore’s first aide, continues to pester him about the Strait of Gibraltar, which they have to pass through on their way to the Atlantic, and how treacherously thin it is – “like a chicken’s ass”, he says. But when the submarine reaches Gibraltar, an intruding mine goes off behind the jellyfish, but the problem evaporates. So why introduce it? There is also a good moment, with a welcome touch of humour, when the Belgians are teaching a capellini cook how to make french fries. But The Leader’s family message, though noble and valuable, is not enough to make it a thriller.

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