It's not that unusual to make films about relatively recent political traumas - the 2002 dramatization of the events of 30th of January 1972 on the Bogside, Bloody Sunday, or Oliver Stone's JFK, for example - but Buongiorno Notte is one of the better ones I have seen. It's an account of the kidnapping and murder (yeah, that's sort of a plot spoiler) by the Red Brigades of Aldo Moro, former Italian prime minister, and then the leader of Christian Democrats, in the spring of 1978.
The real strength of the film - apart from the fact that it's fairly uniformly well-acted, well-shot and so on - is its quiet, accumulating liberal humanist horror at the awfulness of what the kidnappers are proposing to do, and by extension, any terrorism. The dialogues between the imprisoned Moro and the leader of his captors provide a perfect example of this: Moro is portrayed as a humble, reasonable, individual, aware of the complexities and difficulties of the political process, accepting of his probable fate, in the face of whose calm, collected argument the leader of the Red Brigade cell is reduced to asserting, without support, simplistic Marxist axioms. The point is that acts of kidnap and murder cannot be justified, that when confronted with someone who is not a caricature of an exploitative capitalist, but rather a genuinely moral person, who is not only able to undermine their ideological justifications, but bears his fate with dignity, the utopian fantasies of the Brigade members are exposed as precisely that. There is a point when, trying to get Moro to bargain for the release of fellow Brigade members from prison by writing letters to various political figures, Moro asks the kidnappers to listen to him read one of the letters, gently pleading for his life, asking for his family to be spared, reminding his readers of the horror of murder, and one of the kidnappers begins to cry. When asked why she is crying, she lies, claiming that the hypocrisy of the bourgeois morality the letter uses to make its pleas is unbearable for her, when it is clear that she thinks that Moro is right, that it is a terrible, marking thing, always infinitely regrettable and here unjustifiable, to do, to murder another human being. There are other wonderful moments in the film - a family singing a partisan song from WWII, and Moro wandering, confused, around the streets of Rome, in a dream sequence - but this is the best.
Although this is a form of political points-scoring, I don't think it's a form of political points-scoring we should condemn or regret: rather than being a partisan account of a particular set of events, prepared to force the truth into line with what a view of their causation and meaning requires, which purports to be a kind of factual account, it is almost allegorical. To be honest, I have no idea what relationship the story told by Buongiorno Notte bears to the facts, if indeed they are fully known, about what went on between Aldo Moro and his kidnappers, but by concentrating not on who ordered the kidnapping, or whether the search for Moro was bungled, but instead on the dynamics of the relationship between the captors and their captive, the film is able to extract a moral - killing involves a huge, almost incomprehensible, moral loss, and there is almost nothing that can make up for that loss - which in a way tells you all you need to know about the political significance of the events it describes.