In Review

Film review: Ennio

Long documentary about the acclaimed Italian composer

This documentary about the composer Ennio Morricone is “exhaustive and rather exhausting”, said Ed Potton in The Times. Morricone, who died in 2020 aged 91, wrote more than 400 film scores, and “it feels as though each is covered in detail over two-and-a-half reverent hours”.

What director Giuseppe Tornatore (who worked with Morricone on Cinema Paradiso) mainly brings us is “thoroughness”: with commentary from talking heads – including Clint Eastwood and Bruce Springsteen – and an interview with the composer himself, Tornatore munches steadily through Morricone’s career, analysing his scores, ranging from A Fistful of Dollars to The Mission. “By the standards of arts documentaries, this one does a proper job of explaining why its subject is revered,” but the film’s focus can miss the mark: it lingers “on work that will feel obscure to many non-Italians”, while skimming over the extraordinary music he produced for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I found it “fantastically entertaining”, said Leslie Felperin in The Guardian. The documentary amounts to a “huge cinematic mosaic” that weaves “acres of archival footage” with interviews and clips from classic Morricone films. 

He certainly had an interesting career, said Tara Brady in The Irish Times, but I rather wish this “unwieldy” portrait had looked a bit more closely at his personal life. We get little sense of Morricone’s home life, or of Maria, his wife of 40 years, who was his “constant sounding board and occasional lyricist”. But luckily for Tornatore, Morricone himself has such a “warmly emotional presence on camera” that the film just about gets away with its flaws. 

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