A miserly, repulsive old money-lender expects 'family friend' status for his services and even more when he falls for the beautiful daughter of a client of his who needs money for her wedding.
Director Paolo Sorrentino got his screenwriting break on Antonio Capuano’s five-part anthology, The Dust Of Naples (1998), and proves he still has the gift for juggling multiple storylines in this modern morality tale. Giacomo Rizzo delivers an outstanding display of malevolence as a loan shark whose judgement is clouded by his passion for the daughter of a local bigwig. Her loathing for him unexpectedly dissipates at the very moment she exacts her revenge for the wedding-day humiliation to which Rizzo had subjected her.
This is a grim fairy tale whose exquisite design emphasises the characters’ spiritual emptiness and compensates for the disappointment of a rather rushed resolution.
Artistically, this scathing assault on human frailty couldn't be more accomplished. But there's something mechanical about the central characters' cynicism and their ultimate abasement.