Niccolo Falsetti’s engaging debut celebrates male friendship and Italy’s underground punk scene


Source: Francesco Rossi


Dir: Niccolo Falsetti. Italy. 2022. 91 mins. 

Punk’s Not Dead in Italian writer-director Niccolo Falsetti’s engaging debut, which opened in Venice’s Critics’ Week sidebar prior to its September 15 release via Fandango on home ground.

A debut that may crowd-surf on good reviews and word-of-mouth well beyond its home market

The underground Italian punk scene the director and his co-scriptwriter and co-lead actor Francesco Turbanti present in Margins is as much support network as musical genre, a way for the three friends at the centre of the film to cope with the sheer tedium of life in the sleepy Tuscan city of Grosseto, where childhood friends Falsetti and Turbanti grew up and formed the still-active “street punk” band PEGS. While punk’s surprising Italian afterlife is on show here, the film doesn’t get bogged down in briefly sketched-in details like the evolution of the British Oi! genre south of the Alps. Instead, Margins is mostly an affectionately downbeat comedy about growing up — or not growing up — in a nowhere town, one that, like I Vitelloni, Breaking Away or This is England, also has a lot to say about young male friendships and lines of fissure.

Sometimes, especially in its first half, Margins is almost too conventional beneath its hardcore surface as it charts the life challenges that keep getting in the way of its three band-member pals’ desire to lose themselves in music played fast and loud. But the script soon redeems itself by taking the central “let’s put on a show!” plank of the storyline — the trio’s attempts to get a famous US punk band to play in Grosseto — and taking it somewhere fresh and affecting.

Add in some marvellously uncool provincial locations (Grosseto’s post-war architecture and urban planning seem designed to disprove all those cliches about ravishing Tuscany landscapes) and a power-tool soundtrack of Italian punk new and old, and this is a debut that may crowd-surf on good reviews and word-of-mouth well beyond its home market. In Italy, the film should benefit from the production seal of approval of local genre kings the Manetti brothers.

Turbanti’s drummer Michele is the film’s volatile emotional centre. In his late twenties, he’s the oldie in a three-piece punk band whose rehearsals keep getting interrupted because — well, the noise. ”Miche” already has a school-age daughter with his long-suffering partner Margherita (Silvia D’Amico) — while both Iacopo (Matteo Creatini) and Edoardo (Emanuele Linfatti) still live at home, where ”Iac” gets his mother to iron his favourite band T-shirt (“Is that the one with the dead pigeon?”, she asks).

A disused, weed-choked traffic roundabout we glimpse near the beginning provides an apt metaphor for the frustrations of life in a city the friends refer to as “the swamp” (Grosseto lies in the drained coastal marshland of the Maremma, an area once rife with malaria). All three are stuck. Beneath his fledgling Mohican, Iac is a spoiled mummy’s boy. Edo, when not thrashing away at his guitar, is also a gifted classical cellist who has been invited to tour with Daniel Barenboim — but he needs the validation of his streetwise friends. Powerfully rendered by Turbanti as a vulnerable man struggling to contain his demons, suede-head Miche is desperately putting off the day when he will be forced to grow up. The film’s women — very much in the background, as they are in the male-dominated Italian punk scene — become the moral arbiters of a work that is at least in part about how crap men are at a lot of the important stuff.

What lifts this fluid, snappily edited film above a standard-issue bittersweet male buddy comedy is the clever way it gradually mutes the thing we thought we were supposed to care about — the friends’ efforts to persuade a legendary US punk band to come to Grosseto, of all places — so we can hear what’s really going on. The other reason Margins will bring a warm glow to the audience mosh pit is its clear, unadulterated love of the underground scene it celebrates — a love made clear when the final credits are invaded, in true Jamie Reid cut-up style, by a shout-out to the Italian punk bands who supported the project.

Production companies: Disparte, Manetti Bros. Film, Rai Cinema

International sales: Fandango Sales,

Producers: Alessandro Amato, Luigi Chimienti, Manetti Bros.

Screenplay: Niccolo Falsetti, Francesco Turbanti, Tommaso Renzoni

Production design: Vito Giuseppe Zito

Editing: Stefano De Marco, Roberto Di Tanna

Cinematography: Alessandro Veridiani

Music: Alessandro Pieravanti

Main cast: Francesco Turbanti, Emanuele Linfatti, Matteo Creatini, Valentina Carnelutti, Nicola Rignanese, Paolo Cioni, Aurora Malianni, Silvia D’Amico