Review of Il Pataffio (2022)

Moving picture, 117 minutes

Seen in 2023.

In Medieval Italy, a stableboy has married a noblewoman who gets her idea of love from the Arthurian legend of Tristan. In exchange, the stableboy has received the creative noble title of Marcount and nominal control of a fiefdom the newlyweds have never seen.

A black comedy with good deadpan acting and cinematography. Lino Musella is brilliant as the cruel Marcount Berlocchio. It’s funny at times, but not nearly as funny as Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). Instead, the songs complete the melancholy tone of this dark tale of greed and status, which reminds me of The Dwarf (1944).

The budget is much higher than Grail. Luigi Malerba wrote the novel Il pataffio in 1978; I have no idea whether he was inspired by the Pythons. I saw the movie adaptation at GIFF 2023, where writer-director Francesco Lagi explained in a Q&A that the title is untranslatable and almost nonsensical, implying chaos. Lagi called Malerba’s widow, who explained that the novelist sometimes made up his own words.

moving picture fiction