by Roderick Conway Morris

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Il Toro (The Bull)

By Roderick Conway Morris
VENICE 18 November 1994


Directed by Carlo Mazzacurati. Italy.

With the Italian film industry generally short on original ideas, the Paduan writer-director Carlo Mazzacurati's quirky, expertly shot, consistently watchable 'Il Toro' (The Bull) comes as a welcome surprise. Franco (Diego Abatantuono) loses his job amid cutbacks at the stud farm where he works and, despairing of finding another one, decides to steal Corinto, one of the prize bulls. Worth a billion lire, Corinto is far too well-known in Italy to be saleable, so Franco recruits his farmer friend Loris (Roberto Citran), who is also financially on the ropes, and his truck to smuggle the bull out of the country, and on into Hungary. Trying to convey this 14-ton behemoth - a surprisingly, fragile 'melancholic creature constantly fighting against the forces of gravity' - anywhere is an uphill task, but when the truck breaks down, they are turned back at the border and it starts to snow, disaster looms large. The volatile relationship between Franco (robust, bombastic, but basically good-hearted) and Loris (a shy, gentle soul, painfully anxious about the bull's well- being) is convincingly portrayed. And the winter landscapes - the result of unseasonably early snowfalls that took the director by surprise - lend the film a majestic grandeur.

First published: International Herald Tribune

© Roderick Conway Morris 1975-2023