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Fade to Black


Stars: Danny Huston, Paz Vega, Diego Luna, Christopher Walken, Anna Galiena, Nathaniel Parker, Kwame Kwei-Armah

Director: Oliver Parker

A clever conceit. Imagine legendary director Orson Welles in war-ravaged 1948 Italy to make a 'second-rate film with a third-rate director'. Then put him in the middle of a political plot that seems to start with the death of an actor on set, then continues when he finds a list of names, perhaps of assassination targets, with his own at the bottom.

As long as it as it sticks to the re-creation of time and place, set against Huston's wily impersonation of 'The Great Orsini' (as he terms himself when he does his magic shows), this is a fascinating project. But, once the melodramatic plot takes hold, it quickly falls apart.

One love scene between Welles and actress Lea Padovani (Vega) is particularly badly staged, and the whole thing has a bogus feel to it. Huston makes the most of the better dialogue, much of it early on before the film loses its freshness. 'I'm a director,' he tells young revolutionary/ex-cop Tomasso (Luna). 'People's lives are my business. Besides, I'm addicted to mystery.'

Unfortunately, there's nothing mysterious enough about the plot that follows, with co-star Walken clearly up to no good behind his facade of bonhomie.

David Quinlan

UK/Italy/Serbia 2006. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour by Kodak.
104 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 02 Mar 2008