The Conformist

It’s probably not much of a recommendation to say that, only a month after having watched it and having read the notes I took at the time, I cannot remember much about this film. The plot was incomprehensible, mainly because the narrative was chopped up and flitted between with little to no acknowledgement, and if I hadn’t read that it was about a hitman I’d probably never have known.
Our protagonist is Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a fascism-supporting, recently engaged man with a sordid past, who desperately wants to fit in with society. So jumbled up is the structure of the film that I’m reluctant to say anything that happens, as I can’t be sure of the order shown during the runtime, so if there are spoilers within this review then I apologise.
We discover details of Clerici’s past from a forced confession he must make before his marriage, in which we are told that, as a lonely young schoolboy, his family driver molested him, until one day Clerici shot him in a scene where the squibs in the walls are distractingly visible long before they are used. His bride has similar stories of being raped in her youth, but the scene in which she describes the experience to Clerici is genuinely disturbing, as it seems to excite him, and he attempts to turn her on by almost enacting the molestation out upon her as she describes it.
You probably won’t be surprised to find out that this film is Italian, so whilst interestingly shot – lots of angled cameras, leaves blowing at foot level and rays of sunlight through a forest of trees – there’s also a great deal of sporadic nudity and spontaneous sex scenes.
The impenetrable, David Lynch-like plot sees Clerici diverting from his Parisian honeymoon to assassinate his anti-fascist former lecturer, and also visit the man’s wife Anna, with whom Clerici probably used to know on a carnal level, but along the way many of the scenes have elements of strangeness – when Clerici buys a bouquet of flowers, the seller and her singing children proceed to follow him around, another time he manages to lead a decreasing conga spiral out from the inside. I found it incredibly difficult to commit to a film so nonsensical, as I always felt I was being left out of something.
Choose life 3/10

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