Government Corruption: Cute!
Starring: Toni Servillo, Anna Bonaiuto
By Robert Patrick
Il Divo might be an adult contemporary band in the United States and England, but to the people of Italy, the moniker Il Divo refers to the country’s often disparaged former prime minister, Giulio Andreotti. When you look at the doddering Andreotti, you may question where the diabolical nickname came from. The former Prime Minister of Italy, with his compact and sturdy frame, looks like, from even the keenest of eyes, to be nothing more but your average old man; his worst flaw, if any, would be an incessant grouchiness when his coffee isn’t refilled at the local IHOP – something menial and hardly unsavory. How bad can this man be? You’d be surprised to find out that this little man, who zips by with deliberate and unexpected speed, was linked to the mafia. This aforementioned subject is the topic in director Paolo Sorrentino’s maddening examination of Andreotti’s long and questionable political career.
Despite the vacuous, inanimate facial expressions by Andreotti – he has the demeanor of famed cartoon character Droopy – the film itself sparks with invention and movement. There are character introductions, complete with visual accompaniments, that slide, drop, and whiz near the people they describe. The music dusts by in the same adventurous speed, clinging to the film’s stylistic titles, bringing the entire experience to look like it was co-directed by Guy Ritchie. With all of the music blaring as the camera blips along, this movie seems about as informative as a college student with an iPod writing a thesis paper. When the film slows down, however, everything becomes the polar opposite of Sorrentino’s lively camerawork. At some points, when long dialogue driven scenes were transpiring, I felt like I was watching C-Span on expensive theatre speakers. While the acting is fantastic in Il Divo, the pacing is atrocious. How guilty did I feel when, during certain political expositions, I wanted to watch a movie to entertain myself – and realized I was watching one at the time; this whole thing is counterproductive.
The film itself may be a valuable vehicle to elaborate on the repressed feelings of a country filled with disdain for the tainted political impresario, but audience goers in the United States may feel less enthusiastic about seeing a movie in which the primary element is close-ups of old men talking.
Throughout the film there is an abundance of talking heads that babble and spit about political agendas. Now and again, whenever Sorrentino feels like it, the film gets prodded with a fire poker until it starts lighting up with sporadic bouts of action. And, most alarming of all, when the movie climaxed I felt less invigorated with the information about the crestfallen politician than I did when I came in.
Sorrentino’s opus is so even it is hard to recommend it for entertainment purposes. With this said, the acting in Il Divo is masterful in its execution. Toni Servillo, the actor who plays the nefarious former prime minister, is particularly outstanding in his role. There is never a moment where one isn’t completely lulled by the actor’s muted strength as the blank, unaffected Andreotti. The compliment, though well deserved and effortless in its sincerity, does not make the movie itself stand up properly as a cohesive piece of celluloid. It is fun, however, to watch the character of Andreotti buzz around like a wind up toy from a cereal box; but do I really want to watch him talking as if he was in a filibuster for two hours? Probably not.