The Embalmer does just about everything in its power to turn you off. And guess what? It works. Set along what has to be the dumpiest, dreariest coastline in all of Italy – the sand is strewn with trash; the high-rises are mostly empty – the drama details a romantic triangle involving a diminutive taxidermist with chipped teeth (Ernesto Mahieux); his tall, male-bimbo assistant
(Valerio Foglia Manzillo); and the assistant’s screeching girlfriend (Elisabetta Rocchetti). As these three play games – mind, sexual and otherwise – only Mahieux’s taxidermist is even mildly interesting, though in a cruel, freak-show
sort of way. The Embalmer won Oscar-equivalent awards in Italy for its screenplay and Mahieux’s performance, but you get the feeling the voters mostly felt good about patting Mahieux on the head. From director Matteo Garrone.