Film Review: There’s Only One ‘Frank Serpico’

The iconic cop shines in this new documentary.

This review of the new documentary, Frank Serpico, was written by John DeFore from The Hollywood Reporter. 

Fans of Sidney Lumet’s 1973 Serpico, starring Al Pacino and his beautiful beard, likely hold a romantic notion of the real man who inspired the movie: an Italian-American cop whose Bohemian tastes didn’t dilute his righteousness regarding police department ethics. Judging from his new doc Frank Serpico, Antonino D’Ambrosio mostly shares that rosy view, emphasizing the courage and idealism required for the eponymous policeman to testify against shamelessly corrupt colleagues. Viewers who’d prefer a bit more psychological probing may be left unsatisfied, but most will appreciate this chance to hang out with the legendary whistle-blower.

Present-day Serpico looks about like you’d expect: beard now stylishly trimmed, small rings in both ears, scarves and beads suggestive of Eastern religion. He spent a long time away from our shores after his moment of fame: Believing he was set up by fellow cops as payback for having exposed their corruption, he suffered paranoia and PTSD after the on-duty shooting that nearly killed him. He self-exiled in Switzerland and Holland, then eventually found himself in the Hamptons, living a much more relaxed life.

D’Ambrosio has Serpico recall a formative encounter with casual abuse of power: Working in his family’s Brooklyn shoe repair shop, one day he shined the shoes of a beat cop who walked out without paying or even thanking him for his time. The next time the cop came by, young Frank’s father demanded payment in advance. “Never run when you’re right,” Dad told the boy. Continue reading at The Hollywood Reporter. 

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