The most recent installment of Hot Docs’ Doc Soup series played last night at the Bloor Cinema. The Canadian premiere of The Mouth of the Wolf (La bocca del lupo) , filmmaker Pietro Marcello’s latest effort, has already won a few coveted awards. It won Berlin’s Teddy Award for best documentary, the FIPRESCI prize in Torino, and Best International Feature Documentary at Docufest.
While The Mouth of the Wolf is a highly unusual documentary with a number of fascinating elements, I was ultimately unsatisfied with the film, despite all the awards it has won. It tells the love story of two former prison inmates, Enzo and Mary; one is a macho and imposing figure, and the other a transgendered former heroin addict. Both are highly engaging. There are wonderful segments of voiceover where we hear their voices reciting recorded letters to each other. The interview of the two of them near the end of the film is the best segment in the documentary – touching, intimate, humourous, and revealing.
However, there seems to be a second film going on in this documentary, distracting attention from the love story. It begins with beautiful scenes of Genoa city and harbour, both current and from the past. Especially amazing are images of the city’s shipbuilding past, and footage of tenements and remnants of former industry being demolished.
One description of the film reads that the love story is set “against the melancholic, forgotten places of the Genoa harbour, a district caught somewhere between present and past.” While Enzo and Mary do live in Genoa, the story of the city and the story of the couple don’t seem to have much to do with each other. And though both story lines are interesting and beautifully shot, and the old footage of past Genoa is wonderful, they’re not woven together convincingly.
There is much in this film that is worthwhile, both visually and thematically. I would have preferred that it was either two short films on differing topics, or that the director had perhaps explored more of the couple’s relationship. I was left wanting to know more.