I’m finally back from my lengthy absence from the blog and would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. I’m looking forward to a 2015 packed with films, reviews and a few new features for the blog! But first of all I’d like to kick off the year with a review of By The Light Of Day, part of a collection of DVDs focussing on Italian Actor Luca Zingaretti. I’ll be reviewing other films from this collection including Calling Inspector Marotta for Gorilla Film Online, so please keep a look out for those too…

Italian actor Luca Zingaretti is perhaps best known for his role in television series Inspector Montalbano. Now Odyssey DVD’s latest collection celebrates five of his most impressive film roles. The edition’s first, By The Light Of Day, charts a volatile period in Mafia history from the perspective of Don Pino Puglisi, a Catholic priest trying to get children off the streets in Palermo, Sicily. It’s based on a true story and runs alongside the assassination of anti-Mafia judges Falcone and Borsellino in the early 1990s. Zingaretti later went on to play the magistrate in Borsellino: The 57 Days, also included in this collection.

“Zingaretti’s easy camaraderie with the kids is a film highlight”

By The Light Of Day’s director Roberto Faenza paints a stark picture of corruption, poverty and neglect. Opening on a dog fighting ring, Faenza gives us a group of bloodthirsty children feeding kittens to vicious caged dogs. Violence is ingrained in the community. ‘I want to buy a gun,’ says one misguided child, ‘to kill the cops who arrested my father’. Having grown up in the town himself, Pino (Luca Zingaretti) seeks to improve the community, giving children the space to play and learn away from the lure of the Mafia. Here Faenza gives way to a lighter tone. Zingaretti’s easy camaraderie with the kids is a film highlight and makes the darker themes of poverty and brutality much more palatable.

Faenza explores the relationship between parents and children through adolescent Domenico who quickly bonds with Pino, to the frustration of his Mafia connected father. The director has mixed success creating intensity here, relying on tried and tested approaches: the camera pans across from a prolonged beating to the conflicted mother preparing dinner. The director demonstrates more originality in his scrutiny of the subtler aspects of parental manipulation, mob mentality and lawlessness, however. The complex community issues are granted plenty of attention, hardly a shot passes without poverty entering the frame.

Pino focusses on breaking the cycle of violence and disadvantage, encouraging the children of the parish to think for themselves. Faenza strikes on a relevant message here that resonates with modern societies grappling with social exclusion, domestic abuse and life below the breadline.

“A handful of final scenes explore the extent of collective fear and its acceptance”

The film’s climax arrives as Pino’s work begins to change the opinion of adult members of the community and Mafia concerns about public defiance grow. As the Mafia’s threats towards Pino spiral Faenza’s film becomes increasingly powerful, culminating in a handful of final scenes exploring the extent of collective fear and its acceptance. An incident of sixth sense feels out of touch with the film’s realism but does little to detract from Pino’s final scene. By The Light Of Day’s poignant last act unites Zingaretti’s emotional performance with historical gravitas.

The Luca Zingaretti Collection, released by Odyssey DVD is available to buy in the UK now. By The Light Of Day is also available as a single disc edition under the title Come Into The Light.