A Pure Formality (Une pure formalité) 1994
Director Giuseppe Tornatore, celebrated for his touching Cinema Paradiso, pulls out all the stops on this one. Pulls out all the stops and then presses down on the keyboard with his forearms.
If Franz Kafka had been a filmmaker, this would be his movie. Everything about it is tight, brutal, and bleak, and the small cast and limited locations add to the claustrophobia. In fact, while there are a handful of other actors on the periphery, almost every scene is between the Commissioner (a brilliant acting turn by Roman Polanski) and the novelist Onoff (Gerard Depardieu). At first it appears that Onoff is wrongly accused of some unnamed crime, but as the Commissioner continues to work at him, alternating between sympathy, brutality, and cold logic, it appears that Onoff may be guilty of something after all...yet he seems to have no knowledge of any crime, but— Nope. I shouldn’t say any more. Except that it has an Ennio Morricone score.
A great Italian writer-director, directing a great Polish director-actor and a great French actor in a French production so I can watch it subtitled in English: The EU has been worthwhile after all. (And, of course, you can’t get this on DVD in the US).