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Padre Pio

Director – Abel Ferrara – 2023 – Germany, Italy – Cert. 15 – 104m

***1/2

Post-WW1, In San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, a Catholic mystic undergoes temptation while down in the village, armed landowners and military officers attempt to halt the rising tide of socialism – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 26th

Ferrara has long been something of an outsider, working with small budgets. This current offering is highly uneven, very strong and moving in places, betrayed by a lack of planning and resources in others. Perhaps its besetting sin (to use Christian religious parlance) is that it doesn’t deliver exactly what it sets out to: this is not exactly a portrait of early 20th Century, Catholic mystic Pio (Shia LaBeouf). The friar really only forms half of the film – arguably its weaker half – dealing only intermittently with his life from arrival in the impoverished Italian village of San Giovanni Rotondo in 1916 through to his visitation by Jesus and first manifestation of stigmata some years later.

The other half of the film, running in parallel to this, deals with the aftermath of World War One in that same village, as men return from the Front to be reunited with wives and mothers.… Read the rest