MFF 2019: Fulci For Fake – movie review

Fulci For Fake. Image credit: Courtesy of IMDb

For the first time, I’ve been granted press accreditation for the Milano Film Festival – which is becoming one of the most prestigious European film festivals. With a selection of 27 feature-length films and over 41 short movies, the main theme of this year’s MFF is “coming-of-age” stories, told in every kind of genre you can think of: on this website, you’ll find reviews of every horror-related film at the festival, plus a few articles on other movies that you’ll find in the Beyond Horror section of the website. This is my review of Fulci For Fake (Simone Scafidi, Italy, biography/documentary/horror).

23 years after the death of the Italian godfather of gore, Lucio Fulci, Fulci For Fake is the first biopic about the legendary filmmaker, with never-seen-before footage, photos and interviews. This is one very odd film, as it is factually a documentary, but it also adds an element of fiction, which comes from the concept of an actor having to play Fulci in an upcoming biopic who, through interviews with various people who met Fulci, needs to fully understand the director and his legacy.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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My review is also available on IMDb – Fulci For Fake (2019)

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This duality is particularly appropriate when talking about Lucio Fulci, a man who made up lies throughout his life to build a mythical image of himself that would go on providing him with a legacy that, today, elevates him to the status of most beloved Italian director in the world, even above the likes of Dario Argento e Michele Soavi.

As a massive Lucio Fulci fan, it was riveting to experience his 40-movie-long career through the words of an actor like Paolo Malco (The Beyond), a composer like Fabio Frizzi and a DP like Sergio Salvati. At the same time, this “fictional documentary” managed to be melancholy and sad at times, due to the amount of tragedy involved in the life of Lucio Fulci and his daughters (Camilla and Antonella).

Aside from the incredibly informative material presented in Fulci For Fake, the other aspect that’s truly worth praising is the authenticity of it all: Fulci isn’t represented as a white knight in the movie, because we get to learn his flaws as well. Apparently, the director of The Beyond and Zombi (among the others) was quite sexist and misogynist, had a very bad temper with the actors he worked with, was absent as a father. However, he was also an uncompromising person who would refuse to work with big studios in order to keep his creative vision unaltered; he was sensitive and suffered from not being able to show emotions to his family; he was capable of giving love and gratification when you least expected it.

Some of the interviews featured in Fulci For Fake are truly emotional, especially the one with Camilla Fulci – who, sadly, died short after the film was finished and who had a life plagued by illness and concerns. As an audience member, you really feel for this fragile yet strong woman who, perhaps, understood Lucio Fulci more than anyone else.

The almost-ruthless impact of the documentary aspect is, unfortunately, toned down by the directorial choice of adding a fictional element: while this seems like a great idea on paper, in reality it only distracts the viewer from the main focus of the film. At times, it even comes off as just a gimmick.

Yet, the execution feels very clumsy: both the editing and how some interviews are put together seem very odd, in a way that I can’t fully describe. It’s as though the footage had just been discovered after being lost for a long time… it was just a very weird presentation.

Fulci For Fake is a film I would absolutely recommend to any fan of Lucio Fulci and his movies, but aside from that niche it doesn’t really hold up for everyone else, so proceed with caution.

Fulci For Fake                                               6/10

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