In cold b God

The tale of an Italian mass murderer made by a French director has caused riots in France. Roberto Succo’s director CEDRIC KAHN explains why.

WOrds: Tom Dawson

1 the (‘annes Film Festival in 200]. (‘edric

Kahn‘s Roberto Sacco was the target of

protests by lirench policemen. who claitncd that its gala screening was an insult to their colleagues who had been killed by the real-life Italian mass- murderer. The film. however. skilfully rebuts charges of sensationalism. providing instead a detailed. dispassionate portrait of its schizophrenic protagonist. which reminds us of the appalling human cost of his

action... ‘For me Roberto Succo is not about a serial killer, he is a patricide, somebody who has killed his own parents’

The 36-year-old Kahn the writer-director of [flinmu' first became aware of the Succo case from reading the book by the journalist Pascale liroment. J!’ 72' Tue. Hixmirt' i’ruit’ I)(' Roberto .SIlt'tY).

‘I didn‘t see the book as a piece of literature.’ says the filmmaker. ‘Rather as a documentary basis on which to build a story. It was as if I had been given a very long and carefully detailed piece of research. Like a potter working with clay. I could use this raw material and turn it into a cinematic object. What felt so cinematic was that Roberto Succo was such an atypical killer. lie was totally unpredictable: you

never know what was going to happen in a particular

situation. what his reactions were going to be and how things would unfold.’

’l‘hroughout Roberto Sui-m Kahn side-steps generic cliches. not least in the way he depicts the laborious efforts of the lirench police. led here by Patrick l)ell lsola‘s investigating officer. to capture their quarry.

‘L'sually policemen in cinema are represented as yobs and hooligans. rushing around and doing everything by intuition.’ says Kahn. "l‘hat really isn't the case. They have to find proof. and it’s a very long

22 '3 1/1; \I'tl". iy/li)

Madness in mind: Stephano Cassetti in Roberto Succo

process to accumulate this proof. The criminals act

very quickly. while the police have to assemble their

evidence very slowly. What interested the in Rubr'l‘lo .S'uu'n was the collision between Succo himself. who's very impulsive and who is completely irrational. and the world of the police which is very rational and detailed. These are two completely separate worlds with completely different logics.‘

The character of Succo is played in the film by Stefano (‘assetti. a first-time Italian actor. who brings a chilling intensity and volatility to his performance. Was this not a gatnble though. I ask Kahn. to rely on an amateur in such a key role (initially (‘assetti was spotted in a restaurant and asked to attend a casting sessionl'.’

"l‘o do any film is risky. whether it‘s with a professional or a non-professional.' smiles the director. ‘Robert de .\'iro is a great actor. yet there are films he‘s in that are very bad. What struck me about Stefano was his look: the game in his eyes. He had this presence that would be good for the role. And he wasn’t just taken off the street and shoved into the film. We gave him lots of screen-tests and we worked on changing his stance and improving his

During the film Kahn avoids telling the story from the perspective of the killer. concentrating on the wildly divergent reactions of those whose lives he disrupts. 'l‘htts one of the key characters is the oddly serene schoolgirl I.ea (played by lsild le liescol. who dttring their relationship remains unaware of her boyfriends true nature.

‘lior me Ru/H'I'Iu Sun-n is not ahottt a serial killer.’ says Kahn. ‘He is a patricide. somebody who has killed his parents. He‘s a floating character who doesn‘t have a fixed identity. who doesn’t want to he himself. What was interesting to me was the different reactions of those he comes into contact with. which all reveal different aspects of his personality. .»\nd his schi/ophrenia is reflected in the form of the film: there are lots of different elements that don‘t qttite fit together into a complete whole.‘

Selected release from Fri 7 Jun. See review page 24.


Rough cuts

Lights, camera, act/on . . .

'lPAGi'fW Ol- TRAGEDIES AS the Grosvenor Canenia ceases; trading on Sunday 30 June. “‘18 beautifu. old (Illi(}l‘.l(i was one of the few renurnznq i)r(-2»-‘.'~.'ar [DiClUfC‘ houses out it; s; seen some lean tunes; of late. Ouel Stlf‘tfl'ifSC. big business has moved n. (3‘: Group Pl C olaits an extensive redeveloi>rnent of the Slit) ‘.‘./lil(l-" mil take up to l? n‘.<).'“.2'ts; and ml lllCiLKiC a bar ano restaurant. No yuoote condos; are yet planned: shame. Another one bites the (lust.

SIXTEEN YEARS OF Alcohol, Richard Jobson’s directorial debut based on his acclaimed semi- autobiographical novel is to start filming in and around Edinburgh from Thursday 6 June. Tartan Works, an off-shoot of Tartan Films, is behind the production. It’s a new company co-owned by Jobson, set up to make cheaper features on high definition and video in the UK. The legendary Hong Kong director Wong Kar- Wai personally persuaded Jobson to turn his book into a film. The Edinburgh Film Focus (The Film Office) is excited about the production as it has arranged the locations. MORE" SAD Ni lit/C. ll-lf.

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Richard Jobson’s 16 years of alcohol