Non essere cattivo



1995, Ostia. Vittorio and Cesare are just over 20 and are not only lifelong friends: they are “brothers for life.” Their lives are filled with clubs, cars, cocaine and booze. Despite their interdependence, they have different spirits and over time, Vittorio longs for a different life. He meets Linda and, in order to save himself, distances himself from Cesare, who is inexorably sucked down. When they meet again after some time, Vittorio tries to involve his friend in legitimate work. Cesare, after some initial resistance, accepts; he finally seems set on changing his life. He goes out with Viviana (Vittorio’s former girlfriend) and dreams of building a family with her. Once again, however, the call of the street overcomes his good intentions. Despite his friend’s continuous relapses – and his arguments with Linda on this point– Vittorio will never give up on Cesare because of the strong bond that unites them and in hopes of being able to look to a new, better future. Together.

Director's Statement

Having made AMORE TOSSICO in the early 1980s on the colonisation of Pasolini’s working-class suburbs by heroin – a film which became a cult, capturing generation after generation, and is constantly talked about on the internet, on blogs and in forums – I confess that I have often cherished the idea of returning to those locations with the aim of recording the change in the consumption and selling of drugs (in those suburbs, as is common knowledge, it is never a question of just consumption). But it was a temptation that never found sufficient motivation to turn into a real project. Only a series of recent trips into what remains of those worlds and the related discoveries helped me grasp what could really be done: not a simple factual slice of the new junkie world, but a more ambitious snapshot of the final outcome of Pasolini’s world.

As was obvious, the poet’s incitement to abolish compulsory school has remained just that; and, far from being suspended, TV programmes have spread unchallenged, creating a vulgar and rotten indistinguishable mass, going well beyond Pasolini’s most pessimistic forecasts. We are now seeing the complete dissolution of that world, surprisingly also thanks to the incursion into the mentality of those suburbs of a practice which is truly original for them: that of work. And nothing could have wiped out the original culture more thoroughly than the concept and practice of work. Just remember the start of ACCATTONE when the protagonist's foolhardy brother comes out with the fact that he must go to work and everyone immediately makes fun of him: “He’s blasphemed!” Or the penultimate scene of the same film where Franco Citti looks in dismay at the materials to be loaded on to the pick-up truck: “Tons of the stuff! How can all this iron exist in Italy!” But the whole film is a collection of attitudes and comments against the world of work, because only “animals work”. Looking at the current periphery and outskirts, immersing yourself in those environments, you immediately think that today there would be a false and misplaced note in these Christ-like destinies and endings which led characters such as Accattone, Ettore from MAMMA ROMA, Stracci from LA RICOTTA, and also Cesare from AMORE TOSSICO, to die as modern-day Christs. Nowadays every religious dimension is lost; today Accattone goes to the disco, takes and deals cocaine and pills and if then things go really well, the best that can happen is a finale similar to that which in ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS sealed Ciro’s working-class destiny, even if no longer with Visconti’s 1960s optimism and positivity about major industry. Work which for those 'terroni' (bumpkins) driven north by the hardship of the times was already all-encompassing and brought them into line with the rest of society: work which today in the periphery, although arriving four decades late, when they are now in crisis and lurking in the most advanced parts of society, in any case sanctions the final, total, irreversible approval of the otherness of the periphery.

The field research was done through channels that have remained open since the times of AMORE TOSSICO and, above all, through Emanuel Bevilacqua, who in THE SCENT OF THE NIGHT (L’Odore della note) played the role of Rozzo. Emanuel was born and lives at Piazza Gasparri, the heart of Ostia Nuova, a short walk from the seaplane base, and is the son of one of the historic Pasolini families together with the Citti and Davoli families. His father and the uncles acted in Pasolini’s first films, starting from ACCATTONE where they played the Neapolitans (see the chapter on the families in the catalogue of the historic exhibition by Michele Mancini and Sandro Perrella, “Pasolini corpi e luoghi”, Theorema edizioni, Rome, 1981). A wealth of facts and stories came out of the twenty years – and more – which range from the period in which AMORE TOSSICO is set out onwards: a striking anthropological framework in terms of both quantity and truths. A framework which, to keep playing with the references, rather than a new ACCATTONE or a new AMORE TOSSICO could produce a new MEAN STREETS.

Director's Biography

After some documentaries on the world of drugs and on the militant collectives of the 70s, in 1983 Claudio Caligari made AMORE TOSSICO (Toxic love), a film which would become a cult for a number of generations, a crude story of heroin addiction using non-professional actors. The film was presented at the Venice FF and won the Special prize in the De Sica Section. It also won the Special Selection Prize at the Valencia Festival and Michela Mioni won the Best Actress award in San Sebastian. He returned to directing fifteen years later in 1998 with THE SCENT OF THE NIGHT (L'odore della notte), taken from a novel by Dido Sacchettoni, built around an extreme story of Roman organised crime, starring Valerio Mastandrea, Marco Giallini and Giorgio Tirabassi. The film was also presented, out of competition, at the Venice FF.


Cast & Crew

Directed by: Claudio Caligari

Written by: Claudio Caligari, Francesca Serafini, Giordano Meacci

Produced by: Paolo Bogna, Simone Isola, Valerio Mastandrea

Cinematography: Maurizio Calvesi

Editing: Mauro Bonanni

Production Design: Giada Calabria

Costume Design: Chiara Ferrantini

Original Score: Paolo Vivaldi

Main Cast: Luca Marinelli (Cesare), Alessandro Borghi (Vittorio), Silvia D'Amico (Viviana), Roberta Mattei (Linda)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2016