Abel Ferrara's protagonists have always searched for higher meaning in a flawed, messed-up world of pain and violence. If 1992's Bad Lieutenant took Harvey Keitel to church for one of American indie cinema's most spectacular endings, Padre Pio doesn't offer such solace. Ferrara (who's been living and working in Rome for years now) teamed up with Italian screenwriter Maurizio Braucci to direct a period piece that brings together the real life of a Catholic Church saint (the titular Padre Pio) and the rise of socialism after WWI. What seems like a straightforward historical approach turns first gruesome and then profound to capture the contradictions at the heart of Italy as a nation. A character study that breaks free of its biographical chains, Padre Pio shows that Ferrara has still got it, 50 films in.
Actor: Asia Argento, Brando Pacitto, Cristina Chiriac, Ignazio Oliva, Luca Lionello, Marco Leonardi, Martina Gatti, Roberta Mattei, Salvatore Ruocco, Shia LaBeouf, Vincenzo Crea
Director: Abel Ferrara