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The Conformist

(1970, Bertolucci)
A film from the Sight & Sound Greatest Films list whose ranking includes the #8 (#118)
-- recommended by Best Film Ever --

"I've already repented. I want to be excused by society. Yes. I want to confess today the sin I'll commit tomorrow. One sin atones for another. It is the price I must pay society. And I shall pay it."

Set near the beginning of World War II, The Conformist follows Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a Fascist that is instructed to assassinate his former mentor and professor. But things get complicated when he starts a relationship with the professor's wife. Will he pay the price?

This is a film I had barely heard of, but when my friend Ian recommended it and I read the plot, I was immediately intrigued. Bertolucci's direction uses a non-linear narrative as the film starts with Marcello preparing for his mission, but then starts going back and forth to different moments in his past that led him to where he is now.

This approach felt a bit scattered to me and it took me a while to get into the film's wavelength. I also felt that, despite all the flashbacks, I found it a bit hard to connect with the characters and their motivations. However, I appreciated the tonal shift in the last act to a more dark and bleak one, leading to its uncompromising conclusion. Aside from that, the direction and cinematography are great.

Regardless of how much I appreciated its strengths, I still feel like I missed something. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I think that my inability to get into the film's vibe early on hindered its overall effect. Bottom line, this is a film I feel I might or should revisit again at some point to maybe appreciate it more. It is the price I must pay, and I shall pay it.