As a political thriller, Marco Bellocchio’s latest Good Morning, Night (2003), is apolitical and unthrilling. He botches the real-life abduction and execution of political leader Aldo Moro. The story is so replete with intrigue and conspiracy that the only way Bellocchio could have ruined it (as he has done) would have been for him to ignore it. And that’s exactly what he did. The entire political context is missing, as well as is, most importantly, the police’s half-assed investigation and failure to find Moro before he was executed. The only way to make sense of the story is to have read about it beforehand, either from Leonardo Sciascia’s expert report or another source.
But, even as a thriller, Good Morning, Night fails: there is no strong character, nor a mysterious thread, for us to follow: from the outset, it is clear that Moro will be executed. Surprisingly, there are actually a few scenes that cushioned my disappointment, and they’re really quite good. Chiara, the wife-figure of the abductors (who works by day to support and feed them), has several dreams in which she awakens to find her conspirators asleep, and Moro roaming free in the apartment. The way the lunar light strikes his face, so sculpted by age, is iridescent. It’s hilarious, because Moro doesn’t seem to care about his captivity in these dreams: his ambivalence is charming and unfitting considering the circumstances. But, that’s why they’re dreams: Bellocchio doesn’t have to make them fit with the rest of the story. Like dreams themselves, they are momentary lapses in the narrative—regardless of their brevity, they’re a welcome relief.
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and curator whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Moving Image Source, Bright Lights Film Journal, Beat to a Pulp, NoirCon, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Spinetingler, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review. He records instrumental music as Modern Silent Cinema and plays in the hardcore band Night Squad.