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NZIFF: Kidnapped


  • Sun 27 Aug 2023, 2:45pm




Listed by

Lisa Feyen

Direct from Cannes this visually rich costume drama rips the jaw-dropping true story of the abduction of a young Jewish boy by the Catholic church from the pages of history.

A rousing historical epic fresh from Cannes, Kidnapped is based on the true story of Edgardo Mortara, a six-year-old Jewish boy who was abducted by the Catholic Church in 19th-century Italy. Unbeknown to his parents, young Edgardo had been secretly baptised by his family’s doting Catholic maid and, when the story is revealed, the church authorities take it as their cue to snatch the boy and whisk him away to the Vatican to be raised as a Catholic.

With its enjoyably over-the-top orchestral soundtrack, pin-sharp casting and old-school period-film production values, Kidnapped initially feels like a fairly conventional take on a remarkable historic cause célèbre. But once we enter the Vatican and meet the needy, imperious pope played with malevolent glee by Paolo Pierobon, the film shifts gear. Melodrama curdles and turns acid, as a serpentine script takes our naive wish to see justice done, to see a shocking anti-Semitic wrong righted, and hangs it out to dry.

Rated M

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