“Security” is an Italian mystery stuffed with enough characters — each with a “secret” — that it’s a wonder Stephen Amidon‘s novel wasn’t turned into a limited streaming series instead of a movie.
It’s a wholly Italian tale — in Italian, with English subtitles. But its British screenwriters and director mean that any commentary it slyly makes on Italian “justice” is almost certainly intentional and cleverly cutting. A film of CCTV cameras, a tendency to rush to judgment and off-season small-town gossip, indiscretions and politics, it can’t help but bring to mind the infamous Amanda Knox case, even though there’s no murder and the resemblance is more in its callous disregard for “truth,” or police vigorously pursuing clues, no matter where they might lead.
The title refers to something that’s the biggest concern of the rich of tony Forte dei Marmi, a beach city at the foot of the Apuan Alps. That’s why so many of them have Roberto Santini (Marco D’Amore) on their payroll. He’s an insomniac who always seems to be on the job, checking the beachside, doorlocks or the scores of TV cameras that watch over mansions in the off-season, fielding calls from the well-to-do who winter in Barbados.
“Security” is also what Santini’s wife, Claudia (Maya Sansa) is selling. She’s running for mayor, focused on appealing to wealthy donors and playing to their fears of “undesirables” and “invaders.” Yes, “dog whistle politics” is an international thing.
A teenager (Lavinia Cafaro) popping up on one of those cameras, beaten and bloodied, is our “mystery” here. What happened, who did it, and where was it done?
The carabinieri are a collection of Italian cop stereotypes –immaculately turned-out, stylishly groomed and uniformed, utterly disinterested in “the case,” which they insist is “closed” because of what they interpreted as a “confession” from the girl’s father (Tommaso Ragno), an aged outcast who has a “history” of sex crime in the town.
Santini, without anything resembling jurisdiction or governmental sanction, digs into his videos, wonders what’s been erased from those videos, starts interrogating people and tries to piece together what really happened and what the rich and the lazy cops are covering up.
Henceforth, almost every “break” in this “case,” aside from the girl changing her story and exonerating her father, comes from Santini, a native son of Forte dei Marmi who knows the history and the gossip, and is part of that gossip as well.
He’s got an ex (Valeria Bilello) whose 20ish son might be implicated. That “ex” might not be as “ex” as we first suspect.
He’s got a teen daughter (Gaia Bavaro) who is a classmate of the victim, a kid with her own troubled connection to that family and someone in what amounts to a full revolt against her parents. She’s having a fling at school, and it’s not with a classmate.
And Sabatini’s wife’s political sponsor (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), ridiculously rich with a phobia about being touched, was throwing a party the night of the crime. What will the cameras show about that?
Can Sabatini keep personal prejudices, biased hunches and the like out of his thinking as he tramples privacy rights — as a private security consultant/guard — in pursuit of “the truth?”
The co-writer and director of this is Peter Chelsom, whose best credits have been more comic (“Funny Bones,” “Hear My Song,” “Serendipity”), but who gives these fascinating, tainted characters room enough to make impressions and lets the mystery slowly unravel.
The commentary on Italian justice has to do with conclusions leapt to long ago, something we see happen all over again. The rich play by different rules, the locals have long accepted it and the police and courts are mere functionaries, easily dismissed by the wealthy.
Sabatini? He’s playing outside the rules, “private” security who can look at any video he wants, without legal standing. If there’s one thing the story lacks, it’s overt pressure on this compromised character to do what his paying masters tell him.
“Security” isn’t brisk enough to be a thriller, and the stakes never seem that high. But it walks that tightrope between intriguing and “Well, we HAVE to see how this turns out” without ever losing the plot or turning boring.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, violence, sex, nudity, profanity
Cast: Marco D’Amore, Maya Sansa, Gaia Bavaro, Valeria Bilello, Silvio Muccino, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Tommaso Ragno
Credits: Directed by Peter Chelsom, script by Amina Grenci, Michele Pellegrini, Peter Chelsom, Tinker Lindsay, based on a novel by Stephen Amidon. A Sky Cinema/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:59