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Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” stretches long as a late-evening shadow over Italian director Sara Summa’s feature debut “The Last to See Them.” The Italian title, “Gli Ultimi Viderli Vivere” which translates literally to “The Last to See Them Alive,” is also the heading of the opening chapter of Capote’s book. The setting is, similarly, a remote farmhouse whose four occupants — father, mother, daughter, son — will soon suffer a grisly fate. Even the book’s contested designation as a “nonfiction novel” has inescapable parallels: Summa’s film is also based on a real event, but the extent of its truthfulness is difficult to gauge.
This is largely due to the wilful austerity of the director’s coolly premeditated approach. An opening title baldly reveals that one day in 2012, four members of the Durati family were murdered — an event we soon begin to suspect we will not see — and then, armed only with this scant foreknowledge, we watch these unsuspecting victims go about their ordinary business, in the drowsy Southern Italian sunshine with the picturesque countryside rolling all around them, on the last day of their lives.
Family - Patriarch - Renzo - Canio - Lancellotti
The family patriarch, Renzo (Canio Lancellotti) starts his day sorting through some papers in his makeshift office. Mother Alice (Donatella Viola) is prone to headaches and when not lying in a darkened room, wanders listlessly around the house. Young son Matteo (Pasquale Lioi) is hand-finishing an ornate wooden box intended as a wedding present for the family’s eldest daughter, who is never seen. It’s teenage daughter Dora (Barbara Verrastro) who has the busiest agenda and who, very loosely, is the focus of the film’s studiously disinterested gaze. She helps a neighbor’s kid make a cake, she fields phone calls and later a visit from her boyfriend, and throughout the day she is occupied with...
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