124 minutes| Italy-France| 2009| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema

You’d think there’s little left to say about Italy’s fascist past, but veteran director Marco Bellocchio uncovers a little-known true-life story throwing new light on the person and ideology of Benito Mussolini. We begin in 1907, when the future Il Duce (Filippo Timi, suitably thrusting) is then a socialist firebrand and about to be swept up in a passionate love affair that would leave one Ida Dalser with his son. Bellocchio traces his rise to power as she sees it, played out in cinema newsreels, but when he becomes Italian leader it’s his official wife who shares the limelight – and Dalser is cruelly written out of the picture. Her desperate fight for recognition for herself and her boy is played with riveting intensity by Giovanna Mezzogiorno, yet in Bellocchio’s turbulent, compelling bio-pic (whose title means ‘To Win’) her tragic fate exemplifies the regime’s blithe inhumanity. If Mussolini could do this to his lover, what chance for the rest of Italy? (Notes by Trevor Johnston)

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