Comparisons are undoubtedly going to be made between The Traitor and The
Godfather as both centre around the Mafia, both involve the Corleone family
and both begin with a family gathering.
In The Godfather the gathering was for a family wedding whereas in The
Traitor it’s a meeting of family’s over the heroin trade.
The Traitor is based on the true story of Tommaso Buscetta, Buscetta, who
was the head of one of the Cosa Nostras most powerful families (Buscetta
later explains that The Mafia was a name given to Cosa Nostra by the
media), became disillusioned with them over their shift to the drug trade
and in the 80’s fled to Brazil with his wife.
Whilst in self-exile Buscetta could only watch as, back in Italy, The Cosa
Nostra settle old scores and murdered, amongst scores of people, his sons
Arrested by the Brazilian police and extradited to Italy, Buscetta would
make the decision to betray the eternal vow that he made to the Cosa Nostra
and testify against them. The decision would ultimately lead to the arrest
and conviction of over 300 of their members.
The Traitor is a fascinating film let down by a confusing story that fails
to dig deep enough into its subject matter to make it truly interesting. In
one of the early scenes Director Marco Bellocchio chooses to add an image
on screen showing numbers counting up, it’s not apparent as it’s never
explained, but the changing numbers are meant to indicate the growing body
count as The Cosa Nostra carry out their revenge killings. This is one of
the problems with The Traitor, things are very rarely explained. Another
example is Buscetta’s trip to Brazil, a TV news report, over 30 minutes
into the films running time, is the first time we, the audience, get an
explanation to his past life and why he’s being extradited to Italy.
The Traitor is not without its merits, Pierfrancesco Fayino as Buscetta
carry’s a menacing threat with him at all times and is particularly good as
is Maria Fernanda Cândido as his supportive wife. The scenes, as various
Cosa Nostra bosses throw accusations at each other in a court that appear
to be out of control, are some of the films finest.
The Traitor is an enjoyable if flawed piece of filmmaking. Running at over
two and a half hours very little, if any, time is actually taken to explain
any of the crimes that the Cosa Nostra members were responsible for
(including Buscetta). In the end it just becomes a lot of faceless people
confusingly shouting at one another in a court of law.
If only Director Marco Bellocchio, who also co-wrote, had used some of the
long running time to explain more and flesh out his characters, The Traitor
might have been a film that could be compared to The Godfather, as it is
The Traitor is a film with only a passing resemblance to Francis Ford
Italian with English Subtitles