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Alberto de Michele The Last Ride of the Wolves Review


The Last Ride of the Wolves | 2022 Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam Review

The Last Ride of the Wolves | 2022 Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam Review

Fasten your Seatbelt: De Michele Embarks on a Bumpy First Ride

Alberto de Michele The Last Ride of the Wolves ReviewA thematic continuation of Alberto de Micheleʼs last short film, The Wolves (2011), for his feature length film debut, the Italian born filmmaker blends together the caper film sub-genre with what are crumbs of a semi-personal docu. The Last Ride of the Wolves explores the process of planning and executing a final hit by a gang of Italian professionals (known as the Wolves), and this debut works best as an exercise in aestheticism and experimentation rather than the true story account on which this is ultimately based on.

With very little exposition or character development, Pasquale (played by de Micheleʼs eponymous real-life father) is an old crook who nearly squandered his entire fortune on gambling, while Alberto, the director himself, doubles as Pasqualeʼs driver. The rest of the Wolves are presented indirectly, with a series of fast cuts which resemble footage from security cameras – a clever visual choice that is used throughout the film and which alludes to how these people are being widely perceived, as needed to be closely monitored at all times. Another ingenious design is the frequent focus on the empty shotgun seat next to Alberto – which could be interpreted as a symbol of the missing father figure but the slim narrative focal point is how and when The Wolves regularly meet in a random warehouse — where they excavate a grave for their planned robbery.

Undeniably this project is a deeply personal one for de Michele, but as a whole it never fully moves beyond its initial concept. Pasqualeʼs character is ostensibly built by various means – retrospection, series of static monologues in the car, and social interactions; however, they all fail to portray him in greater depth, resulting in what is a rather bland one-dimensional old man suffering from his gambling addiction and who likes to reminisce about the past. Regrettably, the rest of the Wolves aren’t featured in this narrative thread either, which makes the choice of the film’s title to be a perplexing one.

Inventive photography via Dutch cinematographer Ton Peters (of Peter Brosens & Jessica Woodworth’s The Barefoot Emperor) and an eclectic (mid-ʼ80s soundtrack) of different genres contribute to the filmʼs atmosphere but it’s mounted with monologues and dialogues that are a tad too soporific. There are kernels of ideas in The Last Ride of the Wolves, but the blend between a fiction and a documentary fails to coalesce into something more palpable or meaningful. 

Reviewed on January 29th (virtually) at the 2022 International Film Festival Rotterdam – Bright Future section. 81 mins.


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