Don’t Be Bad (Non Essere Cattivo) was the last film by Italian writer/director Claudio Caligari, who died fromcancer only a few days after finishing editing the film. It went on to win several awards and was chosen as the Italian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.
Cesare (Luca Marinelli) and Vittorio (Alessandro Borghi) are two “brothers for life” living a life of sex, drugs and petty crime in the seaside town of Ostia in 1995. However after overindulging and suffering from severe hallucinations Cesare begins to question his lifestyle and eventually settle down with a single mother and takes a job as a bricklayer. He tries to get his friend to do the same but Vittorio has no interest in that kind of life and spirals downward into addiction. Ceasare tries to save him, but with tragic results.
Ostia was a setting used by two of Italy’s best known directors Pier Pasolini and Federico Fellini, both of who’s influences can be seen here. The cast of criminals, junkies and other fringe members of society echos Pasolini’s work and Cesare’s hallucination has Fellini written all over it. Sadly Caligari never achieved their fame or success, making only a handful of films in his career including Toxic Love which is referenced in the opening of Don’t Be Bad. It was one of several documentaries Caligari directed and it seems to have helped shape his presentation here.
A very strong and powerful film, Don’t Be Bad is also unrelentingly grim and downbeat. Its a film that will turn off some viewers because of this, but for those who like a slice of the seedier side of life, (and don’t mind subtitles), watching Don’t Be Bad will be time well spent.
DON’T BE BAD opens in theaters April 7and releases on VOD May 23 from Uncork’d Entertainment.