May 23, 2008

Cannes. Il Divo.

"The uncrowned king of post-war Italian politics, Giulo Andreotti, might be the subject of Paolo Sorrentino's nominal biopic Il divo, but it is as an incisive portrait of Italian politics in general that it impresses," writes Boyd van Hoeij at

Il Divo

"Unlike Stephen Frears's The Queen, in which an icon of power became human through solid acting and a strong screenplay, Andreotti, a seven-time Prime Minister and senator for life, remains an impenetrable enigma in Sorrentino's film, hiding, like he does in real life, behind a barrage of funnily ironic remarks and a smoke screen carefully orchestrated by himself and his kowtowing entourage."

"Paolo Sorrentino's enjoyably original, lurid, sardonic political opera tries to anatomise the character and explain the longevity of a man who has been prime minister three times and has emerged unscathed from no less than 26 separate court cases on charges that include corruption and Mafia involvement," writes Lee Marshall in Screen Daily. "If the director never quite gets to the heart of the man, that's part of his point: Andreotti emerges from the film as a collection of fragments: a slippery strategist, a political opportunist, a purveyor of witty bon mots, a dutiful but opaque husband, a worldly Catholic.... Stagey lighting, direct camera eye matches, surreal set pieces reminiscent of Fellini's Roma and a quirky soundtrack stress the fact that this is political theatre, an operetta of power."

"The dialogue - which hails from the repertoire of Andreotti, a man with a ferocious sarcasm - and tragicomic situations flow rapidly, all the more contorted by an ingenious and mature director, and underscored by a good choice in rock music," writes Camillo de Marco at Cineuropa. "The urgent and farcical style recall Elio Petri of We Still Kill the Old Way, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (winners at Cannes in 1967 and 1970, respectively) and Todo modo. What emerges is a portrait of a grey man who is not particularly intelligent (according to his tender but strict wife Livia), and whose political career seems to have been dedicated to evil."

James Mackenzie, reporting for Reuters, has comments from Sorrentino - as well as Andreotti's reaction to the film: "I would have happily lived without it."

Online viewing tip. Trailer.

Update, 5/24: "I knew I was seeing something intensely audacious and stylistically exciting, but the political arena it depicts is so dry and complex and wholly-unto-itself that gradually the film makes you feel as if you're lying in an isolation tank," writes Jeffrey Wells.

Coverage of the coverage: Cannes 08.

Last year: Cannes @ 60. And Cannes 06.

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Posted by dwhudson at May 23, 2008 8:28 AM