An Italy-Brazil-Germany-France co-production, the film Il traditore, directed by Marco Bellochio, begins in the 1980s in Palermo, during the Santa Rosalia holiday, where mafia leaders had gathered to deal with trafficking issues. drugs. Ironically or not, the exclamations Long live Saint Rosalia! they accompanied the gathering of the biggest mobsters who patronized the heroin trade.
In The Traitor, as in other genre films, the realism of the staging is remarkable. They all mimicked goodwill, kindness, uttered great words (A peace that must never end), but hid the most terrible secrets and bloodiest manifestations that could ever break out in the struggle for supremacy.
Then we arrive in Rio de Janeiro, on Grumarí beach. And the violence is not long in coming. Of course, account settlements are common in the mafia world, but you never know who will eventually emerge victorious.
Tommaso Buscetta (Masino) was one of the brains of the leaders, who did not make decisions under the impulse of the moment. He wanted to save his life before playing the hero, even though he said he was not afraid of death. But he thought he had to take his chance.
In a war with a Mafia wing, led by Riina, and arrested by the police, who do not hesitate to use brutal methods, Buscetta does not have many options. Extradited to Italy after trying to commit suicide with strychnine in Brazil, Don Masino begins a new adventure.
A memorable reply given to a Buscetta policeman to the question when did you join the Mafia? is: The Mafia does not exist. It is an invention of the press. Cosa Nostra, that's what we, the people of honor, call it.
Hesitating between keeping his principles and the desire to know his family safe and to take revenge on Riina, who had ordered the killing of several relatives, Masino decides to cooperate with the state. While he claims that the Cosa Nostra organization has changed its principles and no longer represents the structure to which he had joined in his youth, those active in that branch of the Mafia consider him a traitor.
However, the first part of the hearings during the trial starts a bit busy and continues in the same way, the dialogues seem false. It is, perhaps, only a less successful part of the film because, after the sentence and the moment when Buscetta arrives in the USA, then continuing with other hearings, everything returns to the previous level.
I've seen several Mafia movies, most of them good, and I can confirm that Il traditore (inspired by a real case, which will certainly increase the interest of moviegoers) is no exception. Marco Bellochio's film has style. He has class.
It presents reality as it is, at the same time it gives it a special directorial imprint, it keeps you in tension, it makes you a participant in events, it does not slip at all into the banal or the artificial.
It is an impressive story and, above all, it makes you understand that once you enter Cosa Nostra you can no longer have a normal life. No matter how great the temptations, the dangers are too great and too many. Buscetta has a strange fate: from the hunter he becomes hunted, and then, what would have seemed initially unlikely, to play both roles.
Here is Bellochio's skill in outlining this contradictory character, strange in its own way, a mixture of fear and courage, cowardice and heroism, betrayal and courage at the same time. Pierfrancesco Favino fulfills his task flawlessly.