TIFF 2019 Review: The Traitor
After an intriguing start, The Traitor betrays its audience with boredom.
The Traitor follows the true crime story of Tommaso Buscetta, a mobster turned whistle-blower whose testimony created the largest, and possibly most dramatic, trial in Italy’s history. The film starts out both exciting and brutal – a series of Mafia murders that demonstrate some creative ways to build tension before each shooting. The opening is the film’s strongest component, but also its downfall – it sets itself up to be fast-paced and fails, it slows down from action movie to a lengthy biopic that covers the confession, the trial, and Buscetta’s life beyond it, with too much thoroughness to keep the audience interested. It also loses its innovation – beyond the opening, there is no attempt to find interesting ways to tell the story.
It is a juicy story, and one that would make a good true crime series, but as a movie it should have been reduced down to the most crucial or interesting snippets. Pierfrancesco Favino, who plays Buscetta, shines in the more interesting scenes, but there is only so much he can do with what he is given.
It’s an interesting choice for such a big festival, as TIFF risks letting the Mafia kill off the audience with this film.