I’m glad I watched Cosima Spender’s Palio in private.  The graphic crashes during the valuable Palio horse race in Siena, Italy had me wincing and moaning.  It was enough to make me shush myself.

For that reason alone, Palio makes for intense, worthwhile viewing.  Spender is focused on showing worldwide audiences the craze that surrounds the Palio, and she’s succeeded in developing her film as a window into a cultural phenomenon.  She weaves her way in and out of crowds, captures a fiery excitement from the sidelines, and provides movie goers with insight from the jockey’s point-of-view (a fantastic little helmet camera is a literal example).

Palio wants to thrust audiences into the nuts and bolts of this crazy racing world, which translates to viewers being surrounded by experienced outsider opinions and sporty know-it-alls.  It’s all a bit overwhelming and disinteresting after awhile – sort of like casually watching TV while barflies gush about the stats of their favourite players.  Sportily-savvy movie goers may be enticed all the way through Palio, but others may find themselves longing for more of Spender’s knockout visual storytelling.  The film is great to look at – aches and all.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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