New York Times - 05/06/1982
"...Bertolucci demonstrates the coolly extravagant style that has always distinguished his films..."
USA Today - 02/15/2005
"Director Bernardo Bertolucci's rarely revived first feature displays remarkable camera lucidity..."
In Bernardo Bertolucci's directorial debut, a prostitute is found murdered at a park in Rome, and the police are grilling the suspects. Every potential witness has a different story to tell, but the flashbacks onscreen reveal that nearly everyone in the neighborhood has something to hide. THE GRIM REAPER is an unflinching but sometimes darkly comic look at a lower-class netherworld where the truth is almost impossible to sort out.
Twenty-one-year-old Bernardo Bertolucci took a page from the book of mentor and neorealist Pier Paolo Pasolini to direct his first feature, THE GRIM REAPER. Pasolini wrote the story of a murdered prostitute and the subsequent police interrogation of everyone who was at the park where the murder occurred. Of course, nobody saw a thing, but as each person tells their story, the real events unfold onscreen...showing that practically everyone's a criminal. Bustelli (Alfredo Leggi), for example, might not have killed anyone, but he was plying his pimp's trade with his wife and business partner, Esperia. The five vignettes presented are full of comedy, visual poetry, and the evocation of a strange, stark nightlife. Bertolucci manages to show Rome's seedier side without drifitng into broad social commentary; at the same time he reaches the RASHOMON-like realization that the truth is more subjective than one might think.