The Successor documents the moral journey of Vito Alfieri Fontana, a former tech magnate in Italy whose company was responsible for producing thousands of landmines used during the wars in the former-Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s. As Fontana visits Bosnia and Herzegovina and involves himself with the mine disposal units still cleaning up the country decades after the conflict, the extent of his professional and moral failing is laid bare.
Gorgeously shot yet glacially paced, Mattia Epifani’s The Successor may feel long, but makes up for it with weighty moral subject matter that’s worthy of consideration. What at first seems like a standard cinematic mea culpa for one man’s sins becomes something more interesting as the focus shifts from Fontana’s contemplations of the deaths his past business actions have wrought to the matters of cleaning up the destruction left in his wake.
Watching Fontana explore the sites around Sarajevo is like watching a murderer wander through his abandoned crime scenes. Even more interesting is the procedural focus on Nijaz Memic’s process of removing the mines from the forests around Bosnia’s capital. It’s a slow, careful process demonstrating that removing even a single landmine is a heroic effort of patience and expertise.
By connecting Memic’s demining process with Fontana’s atonement, The Successor demonstrates that penance is a long, arduous process that advances inch by painstaking inch.