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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Il Divo takes a Goodfellas-style approach to Italian corruption

click to enlarge NOT-SO-GOOD FELLA: Toni Servillo as Giulio Andreotti
  • NOT-SO-GOOD FELLA: Toni Servillo as Giulio Andreotti

Director Paolo Sorrentino's thrilling, confounding biopic Il Divo gives the audience a memorable first look at Giulio Andreotti (Toni Servillo). The aging, scandal-plagued Italian prime minister rises in a poorly lit room to reveal a face porcupined with acupuncture needles. It’s probably no coincidence that Sorrentino’s shot draws a visual parallel between Andreotti and the demonic Pinhead character from the Hellraiser movies. The title Il Divo comes from Andreotti’s highly ironic nickname, “The Divine,” but the film paints him more like the prince of darkness of Italy’s post WWII government.

Few recent movies can fill an audience with so much excitement and so much confusion as Il Divo. The film chronicles Andreotti’s late career in public life, from his seventh election as premier in 1992 to the Big Mafia Trial of his alleged ties to organized crime. Il Divo is the polar opposite of a soft-spoken study of the corridors of power like The Queen. Sorrentino attacks the material with the most flamboyant camerawork and conspicuous soundtrack choices imaginable. Clearly influenced by Martin Scorsese, Sorrentino introduces Andreotti’s advisers and adversaries with red subtitles, iconic angles and slow-motion, and employs songs ranging from “Danse Macabre” to Trio’s “Da Da Da.”

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(Image courtesy Music Box Films)

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