Fifty five years since he cowrote Andrei Rublev with Tarkovski, the great Russian director Andrei Konchalovski returns to the subject of the artist as mystique, with this fascinating portrait of the XVI Italian genius Michelangelo (played with eccentric fury by Alberto Testoni). Konchalovski focuses on his later years, as he completes his work on the Sistine Chapel and returns to sculpture, juggling politically dangerous but lucrative commissions from both the Medici family in Florence and the Della Rovere line in Rome, who currently control the papacy. The artist is driven to obsessive, almost manic lengths by his pursuit of the divine, but he’s also a notorious swindler and skinflint, an impossible taskmaster, and paranoid, tormented by vivid nightmares and hallucinations, plagued by guilt and suspicion. Konchalovski creates a stunningly authentic medieval milieu, but also dares to break with realism with scenes of supernatural visions and also an element of low, almost Pythonesque comedy. It’s a heady stew, and its heart there is a magnificent extended sequence in which Michelangelo squares off against a massive block of roughhewn marble, nicknamed "the monster" by the local stonecutters, the raw material for what he is convinced will be his next masterpiece - no matter what the cost.
The closing film at the Rome Film Festival, Sin is a wild and wooly, unpredictable, but consistently spectacular historical drama underpinned by an acute spiritual seriousness. You can practically smell the warts and have to duck the sewage chucked out into the streets, but we’re also invited to brush against the sublime.
""At the heart of the film is Alberto Testoni, who brings Michelangelo to simmering, volatile life, balancing his impetuousness with flashes of a soft heart. As the artist himself puts it: "I’m unable to control myself. I have no sense of balance." The control instead belongs completely to Testoni and Konchalovskiy who between them sculpt the contours of Michelangelo’s life in such a way that you feel you could almost reach out and touch them." Amber Wilkinson, Eye for FIlm
Alberto Testone, Jakob Diehl, Francesco Gaudiello, Federico Vanni, Glenn Blackhall, Orso Maria Guerrini, Anita Pititto
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