Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Film Review - Il Divo

Film #33 of 2010 - Il Divo

The story of Guilio Andreotti, seven-time prime minister of Italy, Il Divo focuses on a man who, despite his almost Nixonian lack of charisma, or even facial expressions beyond a somber stare, was repeatedly reelected and now holds the title of "Senator for Life". Even more daunting than his mannerisms and appearance is the trail of corruption, mob ties and scandal that follow him throughout his career, denied in a monotone, with aplomb, by Andreotti.

Il Divo is directed by Paolo Sorrentino and stars Toni Servillo as Andreotti. Servillo is apparently a national treasure in Italy, and I think he gave a great performance in the film, because I think that at times, particularly when your supporting characters are manic, it is just as challenging to be subtle and play the straight man as it is to emote. I actually had the opportunity to see this film at the Milwaukee Film Festival, and it was at the top of my list of "must-sees" but both times it conflicted with other films, so I leaped at the chance to see it when it came out on DVD. I found that I had a completely different impression of the film than what was actually represented, as I thought it was more mob-related than political.

Il Divo is an extremely stylish film, with some really great touches that impressed me every time, like the creative use of captions to introduce a player in the drama, and the use of fun, sometimes edgy music, a stark contrast to the stoic main character. The plot was dry, and political, which I liked, but I can't help but feel I would have enjoyed the film further had I known anything about the figures and their history. Instead I found there were times when boredom became a defense mechanism for confusion, particularly when there were so many characters that were introduced for sometimes less than ten seconds, but then were alluded to later on in the film.

On its own merits, Il Divo is indeed a good film, but I didn't catch the "Fellini-esque romp" that I've read about in articles and caption summaries of the film. This isn't to say the film is disappointing, but I think that since I was expecting something different from what I received, that I ended up disappointed in the film overall, but appreciative of many of the elements of the film.

3 out of 5 stars

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