Early in this film Pasolini writes to his friend Alberto, asking him to review his manuscript for 'Petrolio'. “It is a novel”, he explains “but it’s not written the way real novels are written: its language is that of essays, of journal articles, of reviews, of private letters, even of poetry.” In depicting the last day of the film director’s life, Abel Ferrara employs a similar multi-faceted approach. It is a biopic, but it’s not structured the way most biopics are.
Inevitably for a film about the director of Salo by the director of Bad Lieutenant, Pasolini is uncompromising in its storytelling. Not confronting in the sense of each director’s most infamous films, but rigid in its depiction of this remarkable man’s unremarkable daily routine. Like the protagonist of Petrolio, Pasolini is who he is and neither he nor Ferrara will modify their lead character’s behavior to make them more palatable.
Lifting the film above the mundane are dramatic representations of Petrolio and what would have been Pasolini’s next movie, 'Porno-Teo-Kolossal'. Despite their content there’s a playfulness to these scenes, with Ferrara deliberately blurring the lines between each of the film’s elements.
“And here is what I am asking” Pasolini asks Alberto in the aforementioned letter. “Is what I have written enough to express in a worthwhile and poetical way what I wanted to express?” If this was Ferrara’s intention he has been successful. Yet the result is almost as inaccessible as an unfinished novel.
Though the depiction of Pasolini's murder aligns with Pino Pelosi’s initial confessions, some details are omitted. There are however, many other theories as to what occurred that night, ranging from extortion attempts gone wrong through to political assassination.
Though there are no scene recreations per se in this biopic, there are extensive interpretations of how Pasolini would have realised his next planned film 'Porno-Teo-Kolossal.'