La Santa – Cosimo Alemà (2013) | Movie Review

La Santa, by Cosimo Alemà - Movie poster by Guitar_Boy (from
Movie poster by Guitar_Boy (from

Originally published on this site here, in Italian.

Year: 2013

Produced by: PanamafilmRAI Cinema

Directed by: Cosimo Alemà

Written by: Cosimo AlemàRiccardo Brun

Cinematography: Edoardo Carlo Bolli

Edited by: Giulio Tiberti

Music by: Andrea Farri

Running time: approximately 91 minutes

Budget: N/A

Receipt: N/A

Streaming on RAIPlay (ITA) here:


Italy is mostly composed of small towns (almost 8.000 Municipalities for less than 60 million inhabitants) and yet there are few mainstream movies that really talk about Italian province: rather, there are many movies that, rather than the province, deal with the suburbs and districts of the big cities.

Obviously, there are exceptions: The Birds, The Bees And The Italians, or La Guerra Degli Antò. Don’t Be Bad and Qualunquemente also linger a long time on the province, while focusing mainly on other themes.

These movies, though often with a comedy façade, appear very serious: they show the small towns and their vices, the gossip, the daily hypocrisies, the power of the local notables, an escape route that takes the form of conjugal betrayal, drugs, emigration.

In the real comedies, instead, the small town is itself a refuge, the destination of an escape from the wear and tear of modern life, a place where everything flows slower and some unidentified “true values”​ are still valid. The result is often a reassuring and unchanging postcard.

La Santa goes beyond this postcard. And the co-production with RAI Cinema and an out-of-competition participation at the 2013 Rome Film Fest give it an institutional character which could be decisive for a movie like this.

Here is the plot. In a small town in Southern Italy (the film was shot in Specchia, in Apulia) four individuals are in the main square: they plan to steal the statue of the patron saint of the village, and each of them carries his story of personal desperation. A local girl investigates them.

This is the premise of a noir, a caper movie, and that’s exactly what La Santa is: a noir set in the Italian South, in a remote village forgotten by everyone. A village so far from the rest of the world that the reaction to theft will not be a phone call to the police, but the pursuit and lynching of thieves.

From a technical point of view, La Santa looks great, a movie that deserves to be seen on a big screen (or at least on a big tv screen).

Cinematography is excellent: the village is a gray/sepia/white group of old houses and alleys. The interiors are well assembled, and are very similar to certain houses of the petty bourgeoisie of a town, with the furniture full of kitsch objects and the calendar of saints on the walls.

It must be said that the statue may look a bit poor, and even with all the possible suspension of disbelief it may not be worth the risk that the characters run to get it. Now, regardless of the fact that such statues are present in every church, writing is helpful here: the statue is actually a fake, and the real one is seen only for a few frames. The credibility of the movie is safe.

Still talking about writing, the dialogues are excellent: both the scene of Chiara in bed with Gianni and the speech that Agostino makes to the students of the Catholic school, as well as the words of the baker, one of the few “human” beings encountered by Dante, result very credible.

All the actors are credible too, from Francesco Siciliano (also producer for Panamafilm) to Lidia Vitale, up to the priest, the speaker of the local radio and the extras. All the interpreters are able to take themselves seriously and keep the tension of a film that never lacks action and rhythm, even if the thieves are always unarmed (the only one with a gun, Agostino, substantially never uses it).

It should be noted that, despite the fact that the movie is set in a well-characterized southern provincial town, dialogues renounce any possible dialectical expression. A choice that on the one hand makes the setting more universal, and on the other makes the movie viewable to everyone who speak a bit of Italian, in whole Italy and abroad.

In conclusion, La Santa is a violent, rhythmic film, full of action and reflections on life, on daily life, on the South, on the province, on violence, religion, personal redemption. All this and much more in an hour and a half full like an egg.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has met Treasure Of San Gennaro, and the result is to be seen.

Highly recommended!

Streaming on RAIPlay (ITA) here:

Sitography – (last visit 28/07/2017)

IMDB – (last visit 28/07/2017)

Tarantablog – (last visit 28/07/2017)

Wikipedia in italiano – (last visit 28/07/2017)

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