Saturday, 19 September 2015

REVIEW - PASOLINI (ABEL FERRARA)


Two master provocateurs - one deceased, one proving himself, having been written off as past his prime - converge in an exploration of a condensed space of time. Pier Paolo Pasolini's final day of life is extraordinary only for his death, but it is thus extraordinary. Abel Ferrara's film finds in Pasolini's planned but unproduced last project a prism in which to move forward and yet to look back, perhaps only achieving one through the other. His tone is touching and modest, stressing none of the dramatics that seeped through his subject's cerebral salacity, and Ferrara's surprising sensibility here is all the more profound for the simplicity in which it situates a man whose life and work were distinguished by scandal. Pasolini is at once an inviting film and an impenetrable one, its lack of concern with the theatricality or the depravity or the symbolism that one might expect from it (and it does indeed occur, though only sporadically) as easy to watch as it is impossible to decipher - what is Ferrara's motive? In the inference that his subject is simply impossible to decipher himself - as Pasolini refutes even the concept of analysis of his art - and in compounding this by presenting only his final few hours alive, this film possibly presents the most pointed portrait of an artist that any other artist can achieve. It remains an abstruse film, though, and one whose abstruseness defies even the definition of abstruseness, but Pasolini is remarkably close to a great film in so condensed a space of time itself.