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IL DIVO

Director: PAOLO SORRENTINO

ITALY-FRANCE • 2008 SUBTITLED • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 35MM • 110 MIN


SEVEN TIMES ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER, GIULIO ANDREOTTI WAS A POLITICAL TITAN WHO SOMEHOW MANAGED TO CLING ON TO POWER DESPITE HINTS OF DARK DOINGS BEHIND THE SCENES WHICH KEPT HIM IN THE ASCENDANCY.
Andreotti is the subject of stupendously gifted Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s latest offering, but Il Divo is no standard-issue biopic — instead we get an eye-popping, mind-boggling fantasia on the theme of just who holds ultimate control in the merry-go-round that is Italian democracy. Even Margaret Thatcher described Andreotti as someone ‘with a positive aversion to principle’, but in Toni Servillo’s brilliantly sustained central performance, he’s outwardly a meek, unthreatening figure. We soon learn however, that behind the softly-spoken exterior there’s a will of steel, exemplified by his ruthless response when the Mafia decides to declare war on him, and the fight is on to see who really runs Italy.
Admirers of Sorrentino’s previous offerings (The Consequences of Love, The Family Friend) will already be set to savour his highly individual way of doing things, and here the flourish of unexpected comic twists, startling architectural compositions and highly creative music cues (is that really Sibelius?) prove flamboyantly enticing as only the Italians know how. Yes, there are a lot of real-life politicians named and shamed, which will mean more to those familiar with the territory, but the essence of the story is unsettlingly clear: where does the buck stop? Where does culpability lie? Sorrentino daringly eschews the slow pace and weighty moralising of so-called ‘serious’ drama, but his questioning is no less piercing. This is state-of-the-art cinema. — Trevor Johnston.

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