Director: Michele Soavi
Writers: Massimo Carlotto (novel “Arrivederci amore, ciao”), Marco Colli (screenplay), Lorenzo Favella, Franco Ferrini, Heidrun Schleef, Michele Soavi, Luigi Ventriglia
Stars: Alessio Boni, Michele Placido, Isabella Ferrari
Michele Soavi is a director best known for the brief series of horror films he made between 1987 and 1994, namely Stagefright (87), The Church (89), The Sect (91) and Cemetery Man (94). After a few lean years he then reinvented himself as an extremely capable maker of television poliziotteschi such as Una bianca and Il testimone (both 2001). Sticking in the same territory he then made the theatrical Arrivederci amore, ciao (2006), which is sometimes known as The Goodbye Kiss, a hard boiled noir which mixes politics and gunplay in a similar way to other popular releases of the time, most notably Romanzo criminale (2005), which was directed by Michele Placido, who co-stars here.
Giorgio Pellegrini (Alessio Boni) is the son of a writer and left wing activist who drifts into terrorism in the 1970s. After planting a bomb which accidentally kills a security guard he has is forced to go into hiding, fighting revolutionary causes in Central America. Fifteen years later he has lost his faith in the idea of the revolution and frankly just wants to go home. However, he’s a wanted man, and he only manages to avoid a lengthy spell in prison by striking a deal with a dodgy cop called Anedda (Placido) and shopping most of his old comrades.
After a two year spell in jail he finds it hard to adjust to living a normal life but manages to secure a job working in a strip club / brothel for an old cell-mate called Vesuviano (Riccardo Zinna). Vesuviano has a sideline in cocaine smuggling, and Giorgio hatches a plan to double cross him and make off with a briefcase full of cash, for which he turns to Anedda to help him. More schemes follow, most particularly the violent robbery of a security van, and eventually Giorgio has enough cash to go straight, open a restaurant and start a relationship with a rather naive girl, Roberto (Alina Nedelea). But the events of the past can never be erased.
This is a fast paced and slick production which is perhaps most notable for having one of the least sympathetic protagonists to be found in modern cinema. Giorgio is, to put it bluntly, a psychopath, a man who doesn’t hesitate to kill his friends (or anyone he’s close to) if it is advantageous to him in some way. As played by the handsome, impenetrable Alessio Boni (The Best of Youth, Don’t Tell) he veers from cowardice to petty minded vindictiveness at the drop of a hat, and is one of the most memorable monsters of modern cinema.
The film itself isn’t so memorable, mainly because it loses focus as the running time progresses. It starts of as a tale of disillusioned revolutionaries turned criminals (Giorgio’s collaborators include both Spanish Marxists and Serbian fascists) before turning into a heist movie and then a psycho thriller. Whereas most films go on way too long, this one feels as though it’s only telling half the story because several plot lines drift away without any real sense of conclusion. But the central ironic joke – that the more despicably Giorgio behaves the closer he closer he gets to his achieving his stated ambition of becoming a ‘respectable citizen’ – is well worked and suitably cynical.
Soavi directs it all with great skill, investing it with an appropriate eighties sensibility (although it’s never explicitly stated when the story is set) and coaxing excellent performances from most of the cast, in particular the excellently sleazy Placido. He went on to direct a war drama called Blood of the Losers in 2008 before returning to television.