Dark Italian drama has violence, sex, cursing.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tainted Souls (aka Il Contagio) is a 2017 Italian drama about the tragic lives led by marginalized, working-class people who keep making terrible decisions over and over. A woman is married to her childhood friend, frustrated by the fact that he's gay and unemployed. Innocents are defrauded by a high-level drug dealer using a charity to steal millions. Jobless men go into hock to violent drug dealers. They are beaten by the dealers. One man is stoned to death. A woman commits suicide by turning up the gas on her stove. Frequent cocaine use is shown, as is pot smoking, drinking, and cigarette smoking. No sex is shown, but heterosexual couples are seen kissing and a gay couple is seen touching each other's faces. A woman finds someone's vibrator. A narrator talks about "penetration" with his gay lover. "Gang-bangs" and orgies are mentioned. "F--k," "s--t," and gay and Asian slurs are also used, among other curse words.
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What's the Story?
TAINTED SOULS takes place in a Roman suburb where working-class people struggle to make ends meet. A pensioner lives with her criminal son, Attilio (Daniele Parisi), who doesn't have the brains to straighten out. Marcello (Vinicio Marchioni) is married to Chiara (Anna Foglietta) but is unemployed and usually out with his gay lover, Walter (Vincenzo Salemme), a lonely professor. Mauro (Maurizio Tesai) has just moved into the building with his wife, who has no idea he's a drug dealer working for scam artist Carmine (Nuccio Siano), who is trying to raise millions for a fraudulent charity. As Mauro watches, Carmine's gang beats Marcello and Attilio for owing thousands for cocaine. Mauro suggests Carmine stop short of murder, in the hope they'll pay their debts. Mauro then befriends Marcello, but in exchange for the cushy life Carmine provides, Mauro ends up betraying his friend. Drunk, high, and angry, he turns himself in to the police.
Is It Any Good?
This is a seemingly high-minded stab at socially relevant drama. But it stumbles slowly and mysteriously from one marginal character to another, without establishing who or what Tainted Souls is actually about, leaving us to care for no one at all. Marcello is broke but he refuses to get a job, so it's tough to empathize with him. His wife is ill but he cheats on her. Attilio is amoral and selfish. Bruno is a wife-beater. Mauro is the only one with the brains to be a better man but gives up his humanity in exchange for promises of riches, and he presumably does this because he grew up poor. Drug use is rife and so is criminality. It's a surprise when a narrator tries to persuade us at the end that one of the biggest liars in the movie is a great guy. Only older teens will comprehend most of the issues raised here, but the uneven script, pacing, and editing will probably lose them early on.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how one mistake in life can snowball into other larger mistakes. How does Tainted Souls compare selling drugs and using drugs? Is one just as bad as the other?
How does this movie show the way addiction can ruin lives?
Do you think this movie tries to suggest that some criminals have some decency in them? What scenes indicate that?
- In theaters: September 28, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: July 4, 2018
- Cast: Naan Foglietta, Maurizio Tesai, Vinicio Marchioni, Vincenzo Salemme
- Directors: Matteo Botrugno, Daniele Coluccini
- Studio: Breaking Glass Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 7, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Powerful look at racism, but too intense for kids.
Romantic and entertaining -- for older teens.
The classic tale of a Mafia family, violence and all.
For kids who love dramas
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