Toxic Love – Amore tossico (Claudio Caligari, 1983)


From the very first grainy frame of Toxic Love you somehow sense: this isn’t going to end well. In this gritty tale of despair director Claudio Caligari invites the viewer to spend 90 minutes with a group of young heroin addicts in the outskirts of Rome. The film doesn’t feel acted, there’s great sincerity and directness to the non-professional actors’ performances. Monotonous and technically primitive at first, Toxic Love soon grows on you. The characters become likeable once you see past the horrible squalor they inhabit. Simplistic camerawork and unpretentious mise-en-scène become the perfect means to tell this harrowing story. With it’s very real and graphic scenes of shooting up and sparse use of Mariano Detto’s often grating, occasionally moving Casio keyboard drones, Toxic Love nevertheless remains a humanistic picture – it’s characters, with their buck teeth, greasy hair and romanesco dialects are, by virtue of their unkempt naturalness, endearing and more convincing that any pro actors’ attempts at portraying the drug culture .