Monday, May 23, 2011

Il Divo (2008), Paolo Sorrentino.

Toni Servillo as Giulio Andreotti

2008 was a great year for Italian film. Matteo Garrone released the beautiful and disturbing Gomorrah which attacked the squalid, mafia-run suburban ghettos of Naples.  Paolo Sorrentino released Il Divo, a study of Italy's long time Premier Giulio Andreotti and his inability to separate power from evil.  Even cooler, Andreotti was still around - Garrone did all this while the old fart was still alive!  I was hoping for a Silvio Berlusconi cameo, but no dice.

Il Divo is gorgeous, draped in rich colours.  It's visually clever.  Toni Servillo plays Andreotti almost puppet-like:  hunched, with flattened ears and a mask-like face, he shuffles slowly, talks slowly and never makes eye contact.  How can this guy be the biggest badass in Italy!  The setting is the early 1990s, during Andreotti's trial for mafia connections and the murder of journalist Mino Pecorelli.  Andreotti's dubious contacts (with the mafia, the Vatican, the "Propaganda Due" or "P2" pseudo-Masonic secret lodge) accrete, attracting unwanted publicity and leaving Andreotti with cripping headaches.  The disturbing feeling I was left with after watching this film, was that perhaps power and evil are inseparable.  I couldn't help but ask myself, how does one rule Italy without consorting with the Mafia?  At home in unexciting Canada - can we be so naive as to believe politicians can remain in power for years and be innocent (if not of murder, of other lesser transgressions)?  During the last election, it was revealed that our (now newly re-elected) Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief policy analyst Bruce Carson had a lengthy rap sheet for fraud convictions and was involved in various shady financial projects.  Carson was known as "the Fixer" or "the Mechanic."  Middle-aged Carson's 22-year old "fiancee" (previously an escort) benefited financially from some of Carson's businesses.  Nevertheless, hey, we elected them all back into power, this time with a majority.  But I digress...

While I'm not current on Italian politics, this film is masterful enough to reach beyond the topical and had me engrossed.  Please Garrone:  go after Berlusconi now!  He must be close to the end of his farcical career and ready for the same treatment! 

Member of the Andreotti faction of the Christian Democrats:  "The Shark"/ "Lo squalo"

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