Fascist Palermo, 1937. Scalia (Fantastichini), sacked accountant of the Confederation of Workers and Artists, slips a bayonet into its chief, Councillor Spadafora, and leaves him face down on a bloodied map of Italy. In the accounts office, he similarly despatches his successor. Then he rapes his wife and shoots her dead in front of an altar to her blessed Virgin. At home with his young son, he calmly awaits arrest. The heart of the film consists of the efforts of a liberal judge (Volonté) to investigate, despite pressure, the facts behind the case - a tale of all-pervasive corruption - in order to save the entirely unsympathetic Scalia. Despite the period trappings - it's adapted from a factually based book by Leonardo Sciascia - the left wing Amelio is more interested in universal concerns, especially the role of a cultured mind in societies where political expediency is the order of the day. The film's glory, accordingly, is Volonté's massive, remarkably sensitive performance: he makes thought palpable. A leisurely, thoughtful political drama, its sophistication and depth rewardingly confound expectations at every turn.