Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Face to Face review

Face to Face AKA Faccia a Faccia (1967)
Dir. Sergio Sollima
Starring: Tomas Milian, Gian Maria Volonte, William Berger

Professor Brad Fletcher (Volonte) retires to the west due to health problems, and inadvertently joins the gang of outlaw Solomon Bennett (Milian), and quickly adapts to the harsh ways of the west while Bennett begins to change his ways.

This is an interesting film that studies the ways things can affect and change a man and how he acts/responds to the world around him. Director Sergio Solima said “Faccia a Faccia was born from an idea: how people change when they find themselves in exceptional circumstances. For our generation there have been unexpected moments of having to make decisions. Where do you go? What do you do? Are you a coward? A swine? Or are you an honest man?*” This film follows two characters, the good natured professor Brad Fletcher, whose act of kindness towards captured outlaw Solomon Bennett results in Bennett taking him hostage and the two men forming a friendship. The two start as equals, but as things proceed in the film, the two men begin to change due to the effects that each one has on the other. Solomon Bennett begins to change his ways, while Fletcher slides the opposite way, becoming crueler and more vicious Solomon ever was. He also seems to be a better criminal than Solomon as well. Volonte is very good in the role, and his arc through the film feels believable. The film could be seen as an allegory of the rise of fascism in Italy, where good men where corrupted by the regime that took over the country during the war years. This give the film an interesting political bent.

The movie is shot and edited well, and the films moves at a good pace. The movie at one point was almost an hour longer that was removed, but as it is the movie plays fine without feeling like something is missing. My favorite moment was the scene at the midpoint of the film where Brad begins explaining how the gang is going to pull off a perfect heist at a bank, and the film then transitions to the gang attempting the heist only to be felled by the actions of Siringo. This is something that you’ve seen many times, but it still fells exciting and entertaining.

This is a great movie. It’s got a very good score by Ennio Morricone, the performances are worth watching, and some interesting things are going on with the story. It’s easy to see why this pops up in a lot of lists of the best westerns, and it’s worth checking out.

*I am not sure where this quote originated. I read it in the booklet that was included in the Masters of Cinema DVD, but if I learn of its origins I will update this.

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