Those dissapointed with the film perhaps weren't expecting a portrait so intimate and morally unjudgemental, as well as something so stripped-down from Ferrara (this is the shortest feature in his oeuvre, at 78 min). The key is in the initial interview: scandalization is a gift for the open minded and a bane for moralists. People were expecting a punch in the face, but they got an elegy for an artistic ancestor.
Its not just a portrait of the great artist...its an homage...a tribute to one of the greatest man ever livedt...and its a movie too,so it does go as the story goes...but its not a big movie,it doesnt have any "hollywoodish" sense in it...it's Ferrera.
There is no explanation for the fact that the aria "Una Voce Poco Fa" close down the film, flowing over moments of pain - over Pasolini's corpse in Ostia or his mother cry - except to "do lyrical", which is what happens when one gets into something he doesn't understand anything about. Nothing but a sophisticated look of an icon that is emptied of body and dimension and a caricatural disrespect for Laura Betti.
TIFF '14 Ferrara's Pasolini feels like that car crash on the highway that you slow down to look at out of some internal curiosity and drive on. The film is disjointed at best and fails to reveal much of anything about Pasolini that hasn't been told better in other films (Nerolio comes to mind). Dafoe nails the look and mannerisms but its a star turn. Ferrara's language choices amongst other follies sink the film.
While hardly definitive, what emerges is a characteristically messy but aesthetically coherent take on the controversial artist that plays like a half forgotten dream transmitted via lamp light. It's a shame then that the lengthy, occasionally tedious, fictional dramatisations of Pasolini's written work almost ruin it. On the plus side, it's Ferrara's best work in years, along with Welcome To New York.