A devastating indictment of Italian society and politic, sharply drawn through broad comedy and quiet critique.
As a study of self-perpetuating destructive culture and an appeal to moral principle, it is a masterpiece — frankly uncomfortable, comical and humiliating. I hesitate from extolling Ugly, Dirty and Bad, however; its portrait of humanity is sarcastic, dry, without allowing its characters room for much grace — aside, of course, from Giacino, who is allegorical to patriarchal power in general. While we commiserate with all, we also balk at them — more for being who they are than for being what they are.
That sort of insensitivity rubs me the wrong way; in my eyes, it is this distinction in tone that renders this film merely provocative, whereas The Rules of the Game — a film with similar ends — achieves something diverse, breathtaking and humane as well.