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Comandante review – fun, if you ignore the voice in your head telling you it’s wrong

Edoardo de Angelis’s war movie was made in collaboration with the Italian navy, which clarifies the pervasive sense that it’s attempting to launder Italy’s wartime reputation

Hollywood knows exactly how to play it when it comes to portraying a second world war German officer. Get an actor like Christoph Waltz, stick him in a **** uniform, and have him strangle a kitten for fun before the opening credits finish. But when it comes to Italian characters from the same period, you can sometimes sense some cultural confusion kicking in. Surely Italy is that nice place with the gnocchi and olive oil? Hard to imagine they were … fascists?

Comandante, the new film from Edoardo De Angelis, won’t do much to clarify that disconnect, even though it actually hails from Italy and might be expected to do a bit more soul-searching. Naval officer Salvatore Todaro (Pierfrancesco Favino) is very much the friendly face of the Italian war effort. Set for the most part aboard the submarine Comandante Cappellini in the early 1940s, it is a dramatisation of the sinking of the Kabalo, a Belgian ship carrying British war supplies, and the subsequent rescue of 26 shipwrecked Belgian mariners from a watery grave by Todaro and his crew.

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