M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 11/26/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Without Conscience 'VERSO NORD' is about child smuggling, but it's also about an unlikely friendship that develops between Mauro, a fussy, materialistic male nurse, Eddi a young Moroccan boy, and Rollo, a great looking, muscled young gangster. It's a road movie, an Italian gangster thriller, an exercise in tolerance and love, and it's also largely flat, uninteresting, and surprisingly pedestrian.
Without Conscience has been made for Italian television... and it looks it. The production values are cheap, the musical score over-embellished in all the wrong places, the acting is mostly forgettable, and to top it all off, the characters do stupid things, that end up negating any credibility that the story is perhaps attempting to have.
The movie starts out as by Gino (Claudio Bigali), a hard-bitten gangster is organizing to send illegal children to buyers and adoptive parents in Northern Italy. Immediately we know that things are not what they seem, as Gino is the last person whom you'd think would have the children's best interests at heart. Rollo (Valerio Foglia Manzillo), who is determined to take Eddi (Mohamed Ismail Bayed) on the next trip himself, even if it means fighting with Gino.
Both Rollo and Eddi connect with Mauro (Maurizio Mattioli). Of course, Mauro is oblivious to the true intentions of the smuggling ring; he's just a middle-aged loner who is more concerned with obtaining flattery from his boss and making sure his new car runs efficiently. Things become complicated when the trio stumbles upon street prostitute Elena, (Ana Papadopulu) who develops an intimate and emotional connection with Rollo. But her group of savage pimps is determined to not let Elena go with them without a fight.
The story is so stuffed with hidden agendas and trite subplots, that after the first hour, most viewers will begin to lose interest. Rollo is a tortured, emotionally shut down kind of guy, and we soon learn, through a series of flashbacks that as a boy, he was forcefully taken from his mother and sold into child slavery by Gino. His capacity for revenge and ultimately redemption provides the climax to the story. Meanwhile, Eddi has a terrible cough that just won't go away, and Elena has a daughter that inexplicably appears without reason.
The movie is also far too long, with only about sixty minutes worth of dramatic material, stretched out to nearly two hours, and once viewers have had enough of the startling looks of Italian actor Valerio Foglia Manzillo, who plays Rollo, there really isn't much else to recommend it.
Most of the characters are stock stereotypes, ranging from the fussily histrionic to gangster bad, and once the initial setup is established and the road trip begins, the story seems to fall apart, consisting merely of a series of tacked on scenes, that serve no purpose except to stretch out the interminable running time. Mike Leonard November 05. "
The Attraction of Opposites: Breaking Down Barriers
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 11/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'VERSO NORD' ('Without Conscience') is one of those unheralded Italian films that deal with controversial subjects while retaining a story of human compassion and love. It is a film with equal parts brutality and tenderness and the direction and writing (Stefano Reali) and cast that make it work exceedingly well.
Mauro (Maurizio Mattioli) is an emotionally needy and lonely middle-aged male nurse, working for a physician (whom he wishes to impress) who connects Mauro with a group of questionable types led by Gino (Claudio Bigali) dealing in the transport of undocumented children from Morocco and other countries to 'buyers/adoptive parents'. When Mauro meets the smarmy crew and the boy Eddi (Mohamed Ismail Bayed) is selected, he is joined by a strangely quiet, powerfully brutal fighter, but exceptionally handsome young man Rollo (Valerio Foglia Manzillo). Mauro is the guardian, the driver of his boss' Mercedes, and the verbal member of the unlikely trio as they begin their drive from Rome to the Swiss border. Rollo is mysterious, seems to react to stimuli in a Pavlovian way, gets in to fights and trouble from the start, but becomes increasingly devoted to the mute Eddi in the back seat.
Mauro and Rollo gradually form an alliance out of need and out of mutual growing love for Eddi and for each other. Mauro senses a feral quality in Rollo, realizes through his inappropriate behavior towards bar girls that he has never experienced intimacy, and finds a prostitute Elena (Ana Papadopulu) who not only fills the sexual void in Rollo's life but also begins to teach him the gentle quality of intimacy. But with her comes the baggage of criminal pimps who further hamper the safety of Mauro's delivery mission. The film develops into a chase film with the now quartet of Mauro, Rollo, Eddi, and Elena madly striving to reach the safety of the Swiss border and the reward of delivering Eddi to adoptive parents. The manner in which the movie ends is best left to the discovery of the individual viewer: the unlikely pairing of Mauro and Rollo serves as the nidus for one of the more beautiful friendships on film.
The acting is exceptional in this film: Maurizio Mattioli creates a gay character impossible not to love while the inordinately handsome and charismatic Valerio Foglia Manzillo brings a presence to the screen that promises an exciting career! Stefano Reali finds just the right balance between the always popular gangster atmosphere films and the intensely personal views of unexpected human love stories. The pacing is breathtaking, the cinematography is magnificent, and the message is timely and universal. In Italian, French, Bulgarian, etc and with English subtitles. Recommended. Grady Harp, November 05
A truthful glimpse (with some drama) into the underground ex
Sanfedisti | Marsala, Sicilia | 04/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Without Conscience, directed by Stefano Reali 02 April 2006 Language: Italian Original title: Verso Nord
Verso Nord (`Without Conscience') might take you off guard if you only glance at the cover, which, aside from showing one of the main male characters topless with a seductive look in his eyes, notes "What some guys won't do for money!"
In fact, the film has little to do with the purported attractiveness of Rollo (Valero Foglia Manzillo) and everything to do with this man's childhood and grim past. The film is essentially about the child smuggling business in Italy today. The locations are realistic (the film opens at the port city of Brindisi, where many Albanians find their way to Italy, and incidentally, where many tourists travel to Greece) and the plot very plausible. A group of thugs from the southeastern region of Puglia (Apulia) kidnap the young Rollo and after desensitizing his every worldly perception through beatings and mistreatment, make him a `part of the family.'
As an adult, Rollo takes part in the same business that forced him into the naïve servitude of the avaricious mafia. For the first time on screen, Bayed Mohamad Ismail (Eddi) plays a young adolescent Moroccan immigrant who is sold by his parents, brought to Italy, and eventually destined in an `escort' exchange in Switzerland, where he thinks he'll be meeting a foster family and where he hopes to have the opportunity to try out for a young soccer league.
Mauro (Maurizio Mattioli) is a male nurse in Rome [...] accepts an assignment given to him by the head physician to drive to Puglia and aid in the escort. Both Mauro and Eddi believe legitimately that a host family awaits them at the border near the Alps, but when they arrive, they learn quickly that the child trafficking business is not about uniting caring parents and desperately lost children.
The beginning of the film and in certain scenes towards the end, the language spoke is a regional dialect (and thus, considering an Italian audience, there are Italian subtitles in addition to optional English, French, or Spanish ones)."
He feels no PAIN
Jeffreycougler | Rochester, NY | 01/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An intriguing film about the italian Mob and 2 misguided men, who help a entrapped and defenseless boy. Although, debatable as a gay genre film, the hot protagonist and his comrade will surprise you."
Tearing Down the Walls
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 07/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
Tearing Down the Walls
Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride
I love black comedies and "Without Conscience" is one of the best of them. It looks at the story of two men on a trip to take a young boy to meet his new adoptive parents. Mauro is a 50 year old nurse living in Rome. He is a quiet person living a quiet life with no family and very few friends. The only thing that gives him joy is his new station wagon. In order to get in good with the Head Physician of the hospital where he works, he agrees to take an illegal immigrant child from Italy to Switzerland. He soon sees that there is more t this trip than he bargained for. Mauro is accompanied on the trip by Rollo, a very sexy and hunky young guy with his own problems. The two men eventually bond which, in turn, saves the life of the young boy. Here is a story of human compassion and love. Mauro is in need emotionally. When he meets the undesirable crew of the men who are responsible for Eddi's (the boy) adoption, he realizes just how shallow his life has been. Then when he is joined by the hot and handsome Rollo, his life begins to change. He is the guardian on the trip and drives the car as well as the speaker of the three males. Rollo is mysterious and gets into fights and trouble from the get-go. Both men love Eddi who sits in the back set. Their mutual love for the boy allows them to bond. Mauro sees that Rollo has never really had an intimate relationship so he fids a prostitute for him while he, himself, tries to imbue Rollo with the gentility of intimacy. All is not easy, however. Criminals hamper the delivery of the boy and the film becomes something of a chase movie. There are four people in the car--Mauro, Rollo, Eddi and the prostitute, Elena. The ending of the film will surprise you but what stands out is the wonderful and meaningful friendship of the two men. It is the acting in the film that gives it the edge. I found myself falling in love with both of the men for different reasons. The film is quite personal as it explores an unusual love story. The beauty of the cinematography is matched by the literate script and the timely and universal message. Here is a movie about redemption , everyone in the movie is redeemed in some way. The character development is stunning and it takes a superb cast to be able to develop so beautifully. Valerio Foglia Manzillo is also exceptionally good looking and a pleasure to watch. "