The Traitor (Il Traditore) (15)

The Traitor (Il Traditore) (15)

Director: Marco Bellocchio

Runtime: 145 minutes

Cast: Pierfrancesco Favino, Maria Fernanda Cândido, Fabrizio Ferracane, Luigi Lo Cascio, Fausto Russo Alesi, Nicola Calì, Alessio Praticò, Massimiliano Ubaldi

Synopsis: The real-life story of Tommaso Buscetta, the so-called “boss of the two worlds,” the first Mafia inside informer in Sicily in the 1980s.


Veteran Italian director Marco Bellocchio [Vincere (2009), The Wedding Director (2006), Good Morning, Night (2003), Fists in the Pocket (1965)] has co-written this impressive and imposing biographical crime drama with Ludovica Rampoldi, Valia Santella and Francesco Piccolo. Their subject is Tommaso Buscetta, the inside informer who helped the authorities to break the power of the Sicilian Costa Nostra.

The Traitor is an epic spanning three continents and two decades. Based on real events, the traitor of the title is Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino) a reluctant informer who becomes alienated from the criminal world of which he is a part, after September 1980 when heroin becomes the main illegal product trafficked.

Also called Don Masimo, the first high level Sicilian Mafia boss to reveal the secrets of the organisation is suspected by some to be pentito (‘informer’, ‘collaborator’), and he is forced to flee and to hide out in Brazil, where he becomes known as ‘Boss of the Two Worlds’. Meanwhile back home, scores are being settled and Buscetta watches from afar as his sons and brother are killed in Palermo, knowing he may be next. Arrested and extradited to Italy by the Brazilian police, Buscetta makes a decision that will change everything for the Mafia – he decides to meet with Judge Giovanni Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi) and to break the eternal vow of silence of the Cosa Nostra.

Buscetta has an insider’s knowledge of the bloody violence and retaliations perpetrated by his former associates Pippo Calò (Fabrizio Ferracane) and Totò Riina (Nicola Calì), as well as  his own ruthless and brutal crimes. The film’s complex narrative follows Buscetta and family members to Rio and back to Italy, into the U.S. witness protection scheme, and back to Sicily. On-screen titles announce places, victims, trial dates, and verdicts, with several interspersed flashbacks and dream sequences. The film’s epic overview features the continuing violence of the 1980s and the boisterous seven-year ‘Maxi-Trial’ in Palermo, Sicily, 1986-1992, with the caged Corleonesi Mafia defendants turning their trial into a circus.

Pierfrancesco Favino is never less than mesmerising in his portrayal of the intricate psychological aspects of the Don’s character and the many moral ambiguities. The extraordinary exchanges between Buscetta and Judge Giovanni Falcone (to whom the film is dedicated, as the main victim of Mafia assassinations) are riveting, as are the chaotic ‘bunker’ courtroom scenes.

With outstanding cinematography from Vladan Radovic, great use of operatic music when appropriate, and a very strong ensemble cast, The Traitor makes for compelling viewing.

Available in cinemas.

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics