Murder & Pizza on the Streets of Naples (Series Review: “The Bastards of Pizzofalcone”)

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When a disgraced cop from Sicily is assigned to a motley crew of loser detectives in the worst neighborhood in Naples, resignation turns to surprise when they start bringing serious criminals to justice.

SnapShot Plot

Filmed on location, The Bastards of Pizzofalcone is an easy summer watch that reveals a Naples few tourists see. It’s a contemporary police procedural that is light on procedure but heavy on the allure of the city of Naples in all her crumbling glory. The 6-part episodic series from 2017 plays like distinct 90 minute movies, headlined by the fine Alessandro Gassman (The Dinner; Quiet Chaos) as Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono, a principled detective who was unjustly framed as a Mafia informant in his Sicilian hometown city of Agrigento. Rather than stay and fight for his reputation, he accepts a demoting reassignment to the Pizzofalcone precinct of Naples, itself the subject of a notorious corruption scandal that shook the already teetering scales of justice in the city. Slated for a Christmas Eve closure, the precinct now runs with a skeleton crew of officers whose careers – for a variety of reasons – have gone off the skids. This bunch of rag tag cops is like the island of lost toys, but once Lojacono arrives on the scene, a new energy lights a fire under them, and slowly but surely a cohesive team begins to form where before there was a self-defeating malaise.

 

 

Parting Shot

Based on the series of mystery novels by Neopolitan author, Maurizio de Giovanni, this show will ring familiar to fans of Italian crime shows which have been shaped these past 20 years by the famous Detective Montalbano series. Indeed some of the conceits here are obvious to the point of attempted forgery, but thanks to Gassman’s performance and the Neopolitan backdrop, it retains a unique charm. All of the episodes in Season 1 were directed by Carlo Carlei in a pretty formulaic approach showing the multiple leads being followed up by the Pizzofalcone team, with ample time given to the personal narratives of each detective, resolving eventually with a dramatic reveal and confession at the end, usually from the most unlikely suspect. Those personal narratives are in fact given quite a lot of time, involving marriages, illicit relationships and a criminal theory verging on an obsession. . . this is the fabric of the show. And behind it all, like a great beauty whose finest years are long behind her, is Naples herself, beckoning to the uninitiated with tempting sites, smells and tastes unique only to her. In every episode, mixed in with their interviews and (desultory) forensics, these Italians will drop everything for an espresso, a Margherita pizza, cannolo or arancino. Of course it can be comical, unless you’re Italian and you realize that you can still solve crime and eat well.

The Bastards of Pizzofalcone is presently streaming on MHz Choice

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Vimeo Trailer: https://vimeo.com/185929032

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