Venice Film Festival | Abel Ferrara rehabilitates Shia LaBeouf

The Wikipedia entry dedicated to Shia LaBeouf is the juiciest; It includes assaults, addictions, arrests, traumatic childhoods, paternity shrouded in mystery, stolen identities, numerous episodes of plagiarism, successive falls into hell and consequent rehabilitation attempts. It would be the perfect basis for an exciting film or, at least, a much better one than the one that the actor presented today in Venice out of competition, and which means his return to acting since 2020, after be accused of sexual abuse and psychological by his ex-girlfriend the singer FKA Twigstemporarily withdraw from the profession.

And the truth is that, at least on paper, ‘Padre Pio’ is attractive for several reasons. Its director is Abel Ferrara, an occasionally stimulating and always unpredictable filmmaker; Y its main character is Pio da Pietrelcinapossibly the most revered saint in Italy, to whom miraculous healings and episodes of both levitation and bilocation are attributed and whose biography, in addition, is seasoned with possible relationships with women and financial irregularities. However, very little of that appears in ‘Padre Pio’.

With God and with the devil

The film takes place over the course of a few days in 1920; After having made himself known within the Church after affirming that he suffered stigmata, the young priest arrives in a town called San Giovanni Rotondo to seclude himself in a Capuchin monastery, from which you will establish a dialogue with both God and the devil; in the streets of the place, meanwhile, the first bars of the socialist movement cause both a workers’ and peasants’ strike and a later workers’ electoral victory against which the landowners and the old authorities will react violently: in October of that year, a shooting by the police will result in 14 deaths and 80 injuries.

Ferrara is much more interested in recreating these historical events than in paying real attention to his titular character, whom we see in a limited succession of scenes muttering, screaming, crying or simply looking somewhere indeterminate with a frown. More than anything that happens in its footage, unsurprisingly, the film is interesting for how it has contributed to enriching LaBeouf’s Wikipedia page: its filming prompted the actor to convert to Catholicism and this, as he himself has confessed, allowed him to shake off his suicidal thoughts. Probably less is missing for the movie about his life.

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