Fists In The Pocket review

Madness, epilepsy, fratricide, matricide and incest are some of the juicy ingredients in this startling debut feature from the then-27-year-old director Marco Bellocchio, a contemporary of fellow Italian film-maker Bernardo Bertolucci.

First released amid much controversy in 1965, this allegorical story unfolds in a small, provincial Italian town, where a blind widow lives with her four children. All of them suffer from epilepsy (except for the eldest son, Augusto), but it is the youngest sibling Allessandro (Castel), who comes up with a bizarre and disturbing scheme to set his older brother free: he decides to murder all the other less physically able family members, one by one.

Shot in black-and-white, Fists In The Pocket is a rigorously controlled piece of low-budget film-making. It rages against the moral bankruptcy that Bellocchio observes in Italian society; the director has personified that immorality here in the `sick' bourgeois family. At the film's core stands the tightly coiled, hyper-manic performance of Castel, which is blistering in its intensity.


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