This post-apocalyptic dystopian action thriller was hailed as a sort of Italian mix of “Oliver Twist” and “Mad Max,” but the film that shares a name with the cult Italian exploitation documentary proved to be quite a disappointment. The shocking 1962 documentary “Mondo Cane” was the driving force behind the trend of making similar exploitative documentaries, but Alessandro Celli’s film of the same name, made almost half a century later, will certainly not set any trends. Celli has placed his canine world in a post-apocalyptic version of a city in the very south of Italy, Taranto that was not chosen by chance.
Right from the opening scenes it is clear to us that this is not real Taranto because two boys take a big wooden cross out of the sea without even knowing what it represents, while behind them we see big chimneys and heavy industry that seems to be crossed from the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album (Admittedly, a large pig is missing as it hovers between the chimneys from which smoke billows). Behind the boy is a fence that says “forbidden zone” and it is clear to us that this is a dystopian future or a terrifying alternative reality in which there is no longer a world as we know it. Taranto, and probably other parts of Italy, are divided into quadrants where people live, so in some parts we have a life that is irresistibly reminiscent of reality and the rich live there under the watchful eye of the police, and in others chaos and violence.
Of course the two boys from the beginning of the story live in that other quadrant. Piero and Christian, or Mondocane and Pisciasotto, as their nicknames say, are orphans adopted by an old fisherman. The boys are inseparable, Pisciasotto is an epileptic and Mondocane takes care of him, and they both dream of joining a local gang called Ants. However, the wild gang, which consists mainly of kids like the two of them and is led by the adult Testacalda or Hothead (Alessandro Borghi from Suburra), wants to accept only Mondocane. Yet, once the boys prove themselves, they will receive both of them, and life under the auspices of a madmax gang will prove to be quite different for two until yesterday inseparable friends.
And the ambitious Celli managed to create an exceptional environment and visually “Mondocane” looks really impressive, the story is what hurts the most, and when it is, then it is clear that the overall rating can not be particularly high. The biggest problem is that practically everything goes as expected and we don’t get anything new here. As soon as we see Pisciasotto in the introductory scene having an epileptic seizure, we know it will be very important for the story. As soon as we see a little gypsy girl who is somewhere like two 13-year-olds, we can assume that she could get involved between two others. It is clear that there is an extremely ambitious policewoman who wants a better and fairer world and is willing to risk her own life, and the gang leader is a classic narcissistic sociopath who obviously failed to gather adults in his gang, so he has good soldiers and children. He asks Testacald for complete obedience and submission from his army and he dreams of taking over the whole city, then the whole world, and it is precisely in terms of blindly following the leader that there will also be a rift between the two boys.
It is also a film with a strong environmental message because in addition to being a port city, Taranto is known for heavy industry, steel mills, which are the biggest polluters in Italy, and an investigation in 2012 showed that there is an abnormally high percentage of people in the area. from cancer. Therefore, this post-apocalyptic dystopia can be seen as a kind of warning, an allegory of what could happen if the problem is not solved. Although the idea here was interesting, unfortunately “Mondocane” did not manage to rise above the average and it is actually a real shame since I expected at least a little more from this film. rating 6.5 / 10.
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