Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Il Divo

2008, Italy, directed by Paolo Sorrentino

In the second half of Paolo Sorrentino's enthralling portrait of Giulio Andreotti, there's a scene where the politician sits quietly with his wife and watches a Renato Zero concert on television. Zero sings a soaring version of I Migliori Anni Della Nostra Vita, a choice of title that's of course entirely apposite to the film's portrayal of Andreotti as a man who reaches the political pinnacle while barely ever appearing to enjoy a single moment of his profess life (making him the most un-Italian of his countrymen). It's a bravura sequence, carefully splicing images of Zero on stage with the unspoken understanding between Andreotti and his wife, and cutting with a sudden silence to the next scene -- a fine example of Sorrentino's confident showmanship and also of how that showmanship is always in the service of his story. Not incidentally, it also showcases his instinct for music, whether Italian or English-language pop, classical, or original soundtrack (the intoxicating marriage of music to image reminds me Olivier Assayas's films). Sorrentino doesn't lay claim to definitive truth here -- any account of Andreotti's professional life is filled with silence and shadow -- but the cumulative picture of Italy's rotten political scene is quite devastating.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States