Roberto Succo (2001)

Director: Cédric Kahn
Starring: Stefano Cassetti .France/Italy/Switzerland. 2h 4m
Based on: Je te tue. Histoire vraie de Roberto Succo assassin sans raison
by Pascale Froment.

What exactly is a criminal? Someone who goes above and beyond to get what he wants with little regard to anyone else or the law, or a totally feckless loser who just stumbles from mess to another? Cedric Kahn manages to paint a detailed picture of a man who crosses both of these descriptions and still manages to be both comical and highly dangerous in his escapades.

In this brilliant, slightly polished adaptation of real events, a bizarre criminal anti hero is etched out as Cassetti masquerades as Roberto Succo, a mixture of Jesse James, Hitler and Norman Bates, he argues about art, nationality and politics along the way. Mr Succo, esconded form prison five years after being convicted for the murder of his parents in 1981. His death defying run of fun saw him elude police in three different countries for 2 years, spending his time woeing girls, sightseeing, killing, raping, burgling and fucking up the odd bank job. The movie is generally detested by the French police for its alleged glamorisation of a real-life killer, but it’s a testament to the accuracies within the film and highlights how useless they were to allow him to carry on for so long.

At times it’s hard to discern if it’s a matter of criminal brilliance or a total fluke, but Succoo continues to rage around the countryside, stealing cars and ranting about paintings, slashing anyone who crosses him and then detailing how he’s English just because he’s been there. Khan takes a rather unusual approach to this story, there is no conventional narrative progress towards the killer’s capture, there’s no officer in charge, no collecting of evidence, the viewer is aware that someone has to be after this man but the focus is purely on his deranged adventure.

Succo is like an enigma, like Kasper Hauser but on meth, jabbering in a strange italian/french accent to wow the girls at disco’s his semi educated ideas about religion is enough to get him noticed and the wave of killing will get him remembered. While the fast paced action of robberies and beatings are highlighted Khan leaves the dead bodies and gore to the viewers imagination. Between the yobbish, fast-talking pickup artist and the psychotic killer who cares nothing for the consequences of his actions. Casetti is perfect for the role with his feral face and hypnotic eyes, the role could only be matched by Vincent Gallo. There’s one scene near the beginning when Succoo is walking with his girlfriend Lea (Isild Le Besco) a stray dog confronts them and without hesitation he produces a knife and chases it into the woods, he returns and announces that he wanted to kill it but it ran away. In the later scenes he’s on a rooftop ranting about being a terrorist and political prisoner. Overall this is a strangely hypnotic film about a vile character but might just be one of the reckless serial killer movies of the year.

Rating: 6/10

R: Red Lights (2004), Essential Killing (2010)
L: Euro Crime Movies
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