Il Divo (15)

Film

Drama

708.fi.x491.divo.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Mar 17 2009

Cracking an enigma: that’s the mission that Italian director Paolo Sorrentino sets himself with his third film, a slick but never superficial portrait of the much accused, never convicted Italian politician Giuilio Andreotti. He served as a Christian Democrat prime minister seven times from the 1970s to the ’90s and his career hit its crucifixion and resurrection in the late 1990s and early 2000s when he was tried both for having connections to the Mafia and for instigating the murder of a journalist. He was judged guilty of the latter but had his conviction overturned on appeal. Now 90, he remains in the Italian senate.

It’s safe to say that Sorrentino doesn’t side with his country’s judicial system: his stunning film, which couldn’t be less of a traditional biopic if it tried, with its unsettling clash of the classical and the modern, from the music (Vivaldi, Trio) to the mise-en-scène (Antonioni meets car adverts), squarely places Andreotti in the centre of a sinister network of politics, business, religion and crime. An opening montage of violent deaths, including ‘God’s banker’ Roberto Calvi hanging from Blackfriars Bridge, speaks volumes about the film’s attitude to its subject. The first half is a speedy onslaught of episodes in Andreotti’s later life that culminates in a barrage of accusations – surely the film’s conscience – from a journalist. The second half slows down slightly and tightens its focus on the approach to his trial, the endless flashbulbs in his face a sinister contrast with a demeanour that couldn’t be less suggestive of celebrity.

Actor Toni Servillo, the lead in Sorrentino’s first film, ‘The Consequences of Love’ (2004), plays Andreotti as a walking corpse, a shuffling, silent, migraine-afflicted mystery. He’s surrounded by the more colourful members of his ‘faction’ and carries the physical awkwardness of a schoolboy. He’s almost a caricature with his gargoyle ears, his hunched back and his deathly movements – he glides like a Hoover in slo-mo. But there’s enough compassion to make this more than a cartoon: indeed, there’s enough in one scene in which Andreotti watches a crooner on television with his wife. Briefly we see behind the mask of his public persona.

Unless you’re closely acquainted with Italian politics, it’s unlikely that the onslaught of names and allusions to politicians, the Mafia, P2 (the anti-communist Masonic lodge) and the business world will entirely compute. But that doesn’t matter: Sorrentino’s skill is to tell his story almost entirely visually. The telling is breathtaking, a showy, musical dance that somehow bombards you with facts but limits dialogue to a minimum. Sorrentino surprises with every new shot, camera move, juxtaposition, snippet of humour and dollop of dread. As character assassination, it’s delicious and deadly.

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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Mar 20, 2009

Duration:

110 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
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Ron Berisha

Diappointing. Il Divo fails to capture the complexity, the extraordinary intelligence, the ingenuity of Andreotti. It just ridicules him in a stylish way, that's it. This is Sorrentino wanting to walk the "Fellini-way", but tripping and falling; he should've stuck to the "Consequences of Love" type of thing, which was excellent, I thought. No wonder this film so highly acclaimed in UK; we love to see the Italian politicians (and the Vatican) as mafioso caricatures. There is more to it than that.

Nigel Ings

Il Divo restored my flagging faith in film, both as an art form and its capacity to make an intelligent statement on our cultural and political condition. Visually stunning, with a brilliant matching soundtrack, the complexity and subtlety of the narrative is more than sufficiently clear even for non speakers of Italian. Intellectually and emotionally satisfying, this is what film is all about.

Nigel Ings

Il Divo restored my flagging faith in film, both as an art form and its capacity to make an intelligent statement on our cultural and political condition. Visually stunning, with a brilliant matching soundtrack, the complexity and subtlety of the narrative is more than sufficiently clear even for non speakers of Italian. Intellectually and emotionally satisfying, this is what film is all about.

Paul Wilson

Very disappointing. For all its verve, the great score, and the intriguing character of Andreotti, I found it was far too fragmented and lacking any useful plot drivers, hopping from one satirical scene to the next with neither reason nor consequence. Even leaving aside the bewildering dive into Italian political namedropping, it felt confusing, jumpy and ultimately tiresome. My girlfriend hated it too. And it was her idea to see it.

Peter Ludbrook

I was really looking forward to this film because in the past I've much enjoyed Italian political films like 'Illustrious Corpses' and 'The Mattei Affair'. Despite many excellent things in the film, particularly the central performance of the inscrutable, enigmatic Andreotti I found this disappointing. The style of the film did not illuminate the convoluted and labyrinthine relationship between the state, the Mafia and the Vatican. It confused it. I also found the subtitles extremely hard to follow and it might have been better to have completely rethought them for non-Italian audiences. Interesting but disappointing.

Brian Damage

I loved this film. The story was told with great style . I loved the way that the actors expressed themselves in the subtle use of body language with an economy of dialogue. My only gripe would be that the subtitles were difficult to follow at times because they kept jumping around but there wasn't really a way around that.

Brian Damage

I loved this film. The story was told with great style . I loved the way that the actors expressed themselves in the subtle use of body language with an economy of dialogue. My only gripe would be that the subtitles were difficult to follow at times because they kept jumping around but there wasn't really a way around that.

ian

No disagreement on the stylistic bravura here, a baroque tour de force of film-making. But as an exposition it is sorely lacking, and you give up after a while trying to figure out the absurd labyrinth of Itallian politics. Maybe that's ok for some, but I really needed some idea of what was actually going on. too clever by half, over stylised, even if you can admire the style.

barry norman

I loved this. For once, the style doesn't intrude on the narrative but, rather, augments it. At times it would help to be able to understand Italian, cos theres a lot of information to take in, but I say unto you- go with the flow, cats. check. it out.

barry norman

I loved this. For once, the style doesn't intrude on the narrative but, rather, augments it. At times it would help to be able to understand Italian, cos theres a lot of information to take in, but I say unto you- go with the flow, cats. check. it out.