“The Turning Point” revolves around Ludovico and Jack, two people of completely opposite mindsets. Ludovico lives alone in his apartment. The reason for this, as he reveals later on, is that he wants to have a world all to himself and his drawings. He has a panic condition and has to take his medication when he is unable to cope with his anxiety attacks. He is an introvert and keeps to himself at all times.
Jack is a thief who has just stolen a bag full of money from a criminal gang and ends up in Ludovico’s apartment where he takes refuge for a handful of days until he feels safe to leave. What follows is Ludovico and Jack slowly adapting to each other’s presence which seems to be a result of two different kinds of loneliness.
“The Turning Point” establishes their relationship in bits and pieces of stuff from daily life. The only piece of philosophy is presented when both are smoking pot. This scene is what lets the two people open up to each other. Everything about them stems from this very scene.
Ludovico suffers from loneliness and panic. He lives away from his parents and in his own bubble of comic books. But now that someone is finally here to not yell at him but to help him get better, he starts to like this person (Jack). It’s not really Stockholm syndrome as Jack mentions, although it depends on our perception of Jack. If we see him as a kidnapper then Ludovico certainly has developed Stockholm syndrome or something akin to that. But the question is: Has Jack really kidnapped Ludovico? Doesn’t seem like it. He has rather “taken over” (for the lack of a better word or phrase) his apartment because he needs to hide. He certainly doesn’t force himself upon Ludovico (unless he finds it necessary i.e. twice or thrice) and rather makes the room feel more like home. Ludovico had finally found a friend or perhaps even a brother who would listen to his tantrums and also help him overcome his insecurities. Moreover, that Jack helps him get closer to the woman he has had feelings for further strengthens Ludovico’s trust in him.
That Ludovico lives in a world of his own is something most of us will be able to relate to. Often when people around us don’t understand us, or we fear that we are or will be a disappointment to them; we find respite in a bubble we create for ourselves, where there is just you. Where no one will be able to tell you what’s right and what’s wrong and you will be able to do whatever you want. And the only way to do this is by staying alone. The feeling of being left out takes over our minds to the point where we deliberately search for loneliness even when it isn’t there. Take for example Ludovico himself. When Jack tells him that his brother Paolo left him and went to Brazil, he also mentions all the good things about Paolo and even reveals that he will join Paolo in Brazil very soon. But Ludovico is still hovering over the fact that Jack’s brother did leave him. It’s the way both see life that makes all the difference. The only way for Ludovico to vent out his loneliness is to think that at the end of everything, people always leave. And this is the very reason why decided to stay alone in the first place so that he could avoid the pain of people leaving him too. He even mentions that he insisted that his father let him live alone. He has no place to go and his apartment is his world.
In what turns out to be a shocking ending, to say the least, Ludovico dies in front of Jack. Moreover, by shooting Buzzetti, and sacrificing his life trying to save Jack, he establishes his brotherhood with him. This is further stressed when at the end of “The Turning Point,” a fatally wounded Jack crawls towards Ludovico’s drawings on the road and notices the words, “To my big brother Jack who gave me my life back.”
While we know how true Ludovico’s words are, the film’s irony seems to tell us that Ludovico lost his life due to Jack. But then again, we have to ask ourselves a question. Did Ludovico have a life before Jack came into his apartment? Doesn’t seem like it. It is only after Jack’s arrival that he begins to enjoy and appreciate his life. It is true that Ludovico wouldn’t have died had not Jack had come into his apartment, but his last few days were probably the best days of his life. He would have been sadder if Jack had left for Brazil. And what is tragic is that Ludovico named his comic “La Svolta,” the same words that Jack’s brother Paolo told Jack when he wanted him to leave and live a life in his way. It was Jack who brought about “The Turning Point” in Ludovico’s life, one that made him live his life the way he always wanted. And with Jack, it would come to an end as well.
Jack used to work with his elder brother Paolo who taught him everything including stealing. Paolo got together with a Brazilian girl and left when Jack was 18. So while there wasn’t any negative feeling in Jack, he was left all by himself and without a brother at a young age. But now that he seems to have found a younger brother for himself, he is helping him in every way he can as if trying to pay the debt he owed to his own brother. Or, this can also be Jack’s way to prove to his brother Paolo that he is a better brother than Paola could ever be. How? By taking care of his younger brother (Ludovico), something that Paolo didn’t do.
It is Jack’s life that has made him what he is today. But it hasn’t changed him as a person. It’s what he does for a living that has led him to his present situation. At one point, one cannot help but doubt if he is even a thief or if the whole money-stealing was some kind of pre-planned revenge on the mob boss Caino. Towards the end of the film, we learn that Paolo is in fact dead and Jack was going to Brazil only to recover his remains. Perhaps it was Caino who got Paolo killed and stealing his money was Jack’s way of revenge. He isn’t adept at killing (not once do we see him shoot in the entire film) and thus resorts to this.
After Ludovico is shot, Jack’s hug, his desperate cry for help, the apology, and the regret, everything is a result of the pain of losing a brother all over again. Clearly, he thinks that had he not come to his apartment, Ludovico would have been alive. But it is perhaps fate that Jack’s death came too but only after he spent some days of mirth and laughter with a guy whom he found a brother in.