Movie Review: 'Don Matteo'

John Thomas

Don Matteo (Terrance Hill) is not a member of the local Carabinieri but a parish priest. His Bishop has called him back to his birthplace to lead the parishioners in the small town of Gubbio, Perugia.

Referring to Matteo’s appearance, the Bishop reminds him that he is no longer in his previous parish in New Mexico, but in Italy and to wear something more appropriate – perhaps a cassock would do. Matteo smiles politely, agreeing with the Bishop and heads out the door to his new home.

Rummaging around in the church store room, he does find the proper vestments and a dusty bicycle left by the previous priest.

His first sermon goes very well, the congregation appreciates his sincerity and kind words. Especially enthusiastic is Antonio Cecchini (Nino Frassica), who comments to his wife how much he likes the new priest. Another member, in tears, remains after everyone has left and sobs to Matteo that her recently deceased husband is accused of committing suicide and therefore can’t enter heaven.

“We’re refugees from Croatia and have created the life we’d hoped for here in Italy; my husband would never take his life by jumping off a bridge. He had a good job at a local factory, we liked it here and have friends.” The compassionate Don Matteo promises to look into the matter.

The next morning, wearing the proper church attire, Matteo mounts the ancient bicycle and peddles to the police station. He is directed to the office of his most recent fan, Marshal Antonio Cecchini. “Yes, there was a suicide note in the pocket of the deceased, but it cannot be shown to anyone outside the department. Besides, the writing is almost illegible as it was found in his pocket at the bottom of the river,” laments Cecchini. “I would like to help you but can’t.”

Matteo’s next stop is to visit the bridge from which the husband allegedly jumped.

Afterward, Matteo visits the factory where the husband was employed. The owner takes a moment to show Matteo around and adds, that outside of a few unsafe working conditions now being taken care of, things are normal. Speaking with other factory employees, Matteo finds them concerned with their safety, working hours and low wages and felt their late co-worked to have been a good person with no known enemies.

Examining the husband’s tiny workspace Matteo notices that the mouse for his computer is on the left side of the keypad which leads him to believe the husband was left-handed. Back to Marshal Cecchini.

Still wishing to help his friend Matteo solve the case, yet still following rules, Cecchini shows him a photocopy of the suicide note. The left-handed question is enough for the case to be reopened. The note goes to forensics for a closer examination. Police are also sent to the factory and bridge to look for new evidence.

Supposing the husband is right-handed, questions arise: who killed the husband, who wrote the suicide note and why? Back on his bicycle, Matteo heads for the home of the grieving widow, with the hope of bringing her good news.

“See” this single episode in season one.


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