The Mattei Affair

The Mattei Affair ★★★★★

My first experience with director Francesco Rosi is the first time in a good, long while I've experienced a film that I knew had wrestled its way into my all-time favourites list before the the final frames had even rolled. This brilliantly edited fusion of docudrama montage and true-crime tension maintains a thrilling forward momentum in spite of its unconventional narrative structure, whizzing every which way in time through the life of an Italian oil tycoon of sorts whose controversial political entanglements ultimately precluded a sudden death that is widely regarded as an assassination. The icing on the cake is the inclusion of a subplot concerning the journalist who initially began research for the film and disappeared under equally suspicious circumstances. This is all a lot to chew on, but is so perfectly assembled that the information overload never seems inappropriate and instead leaves you hanging for more from minute to minute. Gian Maria Volonté also never disappoints and this is probably the greatest performance I have yet seen of his, yet even with a Palme d'Or win I find this one isn't brought up as frequently as other works from all involved. If you enjoy the modernist thrillers of Alan J. Pakula, the political epics of Oliver Stone's golden age or really any Italian cinema from this period it's definitely a must-see.

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