The Goldsmith (L'orafo) - Grimmfest International Premiere Review
Director: Vincenzo Ricchiuto
Starring: Guiseppe Pambieri, Stefania Cassini, Tania Bambaci, Gianluca Vannucci, Mike Cimini
Written by: Vincenzo Ricchiuto, Germano Tarricone
Produced by: Antonio Guadalupi, Germano Tarricone
Cinematography by: Francesco Collinelli
Original Score by: Alexander Cimini
A trio of desperate criminals break into the isolated country house of an elderly goldsmith and his wife. But their chosen targets turn out to be far less defenseless than they seem.
The premise doesn't exactly offer anything uniquely original to the home invasion sub-genre. There's a growing trend of these type of films where the easy mark actually turns out to be more intelligent and more dangerous than first expected. However the first half of Vincenzo Ricchiuto's debut feature is smart and engaging but it quickly falls into familiar and tiresome territory.
Arianna, Stefano and Roberto are three close childhood friends who we first meet as kids in the opening scene when they attack and knife an elderly man. Fast forward years later and the three are still caught up in their criminal ways. Their next target is an elderly goldsmith called Antonio, who they have received some secret information about concerning a jewellery laboratory. Discovering this lab and clearing its goods could prove to be a huge moment in the trio's lives and set them up financially for some time to come. There's only one problem. When they break in to the elderly couple's home they can't find the lab and just as they are about the give up, Roberto, the loose canon of the three, decides to kick the bedroom door down and demand, at gun point, that Antonio show them where the lab is.
Eventually Antonio gives in after Roberto strikes his wife Giovanna and the three are shown the hidden entrance to the secret lab. Antonio and Giovanna are then tied up as the three fill their bags full of Cartier level goodies. But their dastardly plan suddenly goes tits up when the lab door closes behind them and the three criminals are locked inside with no escape in sight.
A long period of the film then addresses the fact that Antonio and Giovanna clearly are not the old fools that the desperate criminals first envisioned. Not only does Antonio decide not to call the police on the group but he begins to play games with them and we learn that he actually knows who they are; their names and intimate details about their past. This is where my attention for the film really peaked because the mystery of how he knows these details and what is actually going on here really draws you in. Antonio's games eventually split the group and we get some great scenes where paranoia takes over. It really is great writing that helps to build tension. Helping to spike the tension to insurmountable levels is the intermittent visit from a friendly police officer that could've been drawn out even further in Tarantino fashion, but Ricchiuto decides to put a pin in that sequence early. The same thing actually happened earlier when the trio turn on themselves. It feels like they were so excited to get to the end that they forgo all the suspense, which up until that point had been working effectively.
And just when we think this taut thriller might be exploring new and original plot points, it just sort of turns into a conventional "secret staircase leads to medical facility where experimental body doctoring is occurring". The film then decides to drop all the hard work it's done in building tension and character development by turning the elderly couple, particularly Giovanna, into a bit of a caricature.
The performances are spot on and the writing is very good for the most part. The screenplay is structured well but a few tweaks could've really turned this into a must-see imaginative thriller. It's just a shame that impatience got the better of director Vincenzo Ricchiuto (which is strange because the runtime is only 88 minutes) and the film instead ends up turning into a standard torture flick.
- Gavin Logan
'The Goldsmith' received its International Premiere at Grimmfest on October 8th.