A not very thrilling crime drama that tries and fails to fully explore the infamous Circeo Massacre.
This review of the Netflix film The Catholic School does not contain spoilers.
Based on a real-life murder that shocked Rome in the 70s, The Catholic School tells the story of the run-up to an event that would go down in history as the Circeo Massacre. The film starts in a dark alley, where a woman stuck inside the trunk of a car is desperately pleading for help. We then cut to a gym class by the pool, where we get our first look at the characters. Edoardo’s narration introduces several of the students who attend this prestigious boys-only private school. These young men struggle with balancing their education, their families, and their faith as they’re growing into men.
The film spends the first half introducing many characters and plot lines, and with the mixed-up timelines, it gets a little hard to follow. And it’s also a bit boring. We get glimpses from the lives of privileged young men growing up in Rome during the 1970s. The teenagers are dealing with abusive parents, absent parents, their sexual awakening, and school bullying. While this level of detail works well in a book, it falls flat in a motion picture. There’s one scene where the narrator tells us one of his classmates became a psychiatrist further down the line and diagnosed fellow students as “sadists” and “masochists.” I’m not sure if that was a necessary add-on or whether those are real psychiatric diagnoses.
It’s hard to see how a movie about one of the biggest murders in the history of Italy could be so tedious. The acting from the young cast was solid, and the 70s aesthetic was beautiful, yet the film tries to do too many things at once. We’re introduced to a bunch of people and by the time we get to the actual murders, it seems like we’ve entered a completely different movie. We learn nothing new about the case or the three perpetrators. Maybe that’s the point The Catholic School tried to make – monsters are lurking in the shadows and they sometimes pounce without warning.
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