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"The Poor Man's "Dolce Vita""
  • NR
  • 1961
  • 2 hr
  • 7.6  (10,064)

Accattone is a 1961 film by Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini. The movie is an unflinching portrayal of the impoverished and desperate lives of the inhabitants of Rome's grimy suburbs, many of whom live by the wayside and in the gutters of the city. Franco Citti stars as Accattone, a petty criminal and pimp who has exhausted all his bridges and is forced to rely on the generosity of his friends to survive.

Franco Citti's Accattone is the epitome of a poor Italian neorealist anti-hero. He is lazy, violent, and crude with a total lack of empathy or morality. The film takes a gray look at the hard-hitting reality of the life of an impoverished slum dweller. It portrays how challenging it can be to escape from the cycle of poverty, crime, and hopelessness. Accattone's world contrasts drastically with that of middle-class Italy, and it is clear that he and his ilk are invisible to the rest of society.

As the story progresses, Accattone sinks further and further into vice, trickery, violence, and fraud. The film's sharp black-and-white photography highlights his setbacks and suffering to great effect. His former lover, Maddalena (Franca Pasut), a former prostitute herself, is determined to help him. She is the only one who sees any worth in him, despite his vices. But when she is arrested, Accattone is forced to confront his pain and loss head-on.

The storyline is propelled by the vicissitudes of the urban working-class, and Pasolini is careful to ensure that none of his characters is easy to define or judge. Throughout Accattone's interactions with the prostitutes, the pimps, the pimps' mistresses, and the drug addicts who are his peers, Pasolini highlights the different ways in which his characters are both exploited and exploitative themselves. Despite Accattone's unquestionable evil nature, there is a sense in which it is an incremental trauma culminating in good people becoming damaged by the harsh conditions of poverty, and this is subtly conveyed.

The sense of despair pervades every aspect of Accattone, and there is a remarkable sense of realism to the film that distinguishes it as an important philosophical work in its treatment of human nature. At its core, Accattone is about the contradictions that human nature presents, and it is Pasolini's excellent job to lay these open to view in a manner that is both depressing and tragic. The film is set against a backdrop of a ruined Rome, a theme that Pasolini has followed in other films of his career, and this imagery adds to the misery that pervades the movie. The film also features a powerful score that reflects the gravity of the harsh life in the grittier neighborhoods.

In conclusion, Accattone is a rare, pessimistic, deeply philosophical movie that conveys a multifaceted view of life in early-60s Rome. It is a product of Italian neorealism that portrays poverty and desolation in exquisite detail, and its lead performance by Franco Citti is one of the great cinematic achievements of the era. The film is grim, tense, and often bleak, but it is also full of humanity, tragedy, and sadness. It is a classic Italian film of a large scale, with subtle themes and socio-economic implications that are still relevant today. Accattone is a film that deserves a broad audience, and it is not to be missed by anyone that is interested in the caprices of human nature.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (10,064)