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PureMorning Tattoo

average rating is 3 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Sep 18, 2022

Film Reviews
PureMorning Tattoo
Directed by:
Michele Canevari
Written by:
Michele Canevari
Andrea Caldari, Giorgio Rabbachin, Nicola Rinaldi

The story of a ground-breaking Italian tattoo parlour is intertwined with perceptive ponderings on the art and theory of tattooing itself in PureMorning Tattoo, an Italian-language documentary from director Michele Canevari which is primarily for enthusiasts of the art, but offers some interesting insights for novices.


The film follows the PureMorning tattoo parlour in Vigevano, Italy, with a particular focus on the relationship between founders Andrea ‘Kaluf’ Caldari and Giorgio ‘Gun’ Rabbachin. The ink-covered pair have a long and charming history of friendship which is at the heart of the parlour, and their love of the artis infectiously established through Rabbachin’s thought-provoking musings. The film features interviews with the pair, as well as new recruits to the shop, as it delivers a love-letter to the art of tattooing.


It is clear that director Canevari has a deep and endearing respect for tattooists and their artistry. Allowing his subjects to take the lead on their passion, the history of the art is explained as well as different styles and specialisms which provide audiences with essential context of how truly impressive the work of Caldari, Rabbachin and their apprentices is. Their view of their customers as their canvass makes clear that to them, tattooing someone is more than a transaction – and instead both an honour and a responsibility. The regard in which tattooing is treated is suitably high and provides prestige to the film.


There are occasions however where the film does feel a little unfocused, allowing its subjects to ramble and spending unnecessary time on matters which feel far removed from the purpose of the film. This feels more like a failure of editing than anything, as the tattooists themselves are clearly comfortable enough in front of the camera to consider all aspects of their lives and how their calling has impacted this. Some of the film’s best moments come from these off-hand musings from the shop’s founders, but other times viewers will be questioning why they are spending as much time following rabbits down holes.


There is a raw quality to the production, with Canevari placing the viewers directly in the shop or regular, busy days. The camera feels low and on the level with the very artists it is filming, giving close-up shots of the needles at work. Regular customers are invited to contribute to the film which adds further authenticity, as well as demonstrating the welcoming atmosphere the owners have cultivated. These scene-constructions and additions to the film all contribute to the positive presentation of tattooing, the shop, and its employees that the director is eager to demonstrate.


Niche doesn’t go far enough to describe PureMorning Tattoo, given that you would have to be a tattoo-loving resident of Vigevano to truly appreciate every aspect of it. However, there are enough interesting moments throughout the documentary to enlighten anyone – from tattoo-fanatics to those who never went past rub-on transfers – and the ability to still reach those outside of the die-hards is a tough art in itself.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Documentary, World Cinema
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