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Il Divo [Blu-ray]
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
"Il Divo" is unusual breed of biopic, a mixture of fact and fiction, whose power is in its visual and auditory style rather than in narrative. The subject is Italy's seven-time Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who was associated with every major political scandal in Italy for 50 years, frequently accused of murder and mayhem, and rumored to be the true master of the P2 Masonic Lodge. Some believe him responsible for many of the 236 political murders that occurred in Italy between 1969 and 1984. Writer/director Paolo Sorrentino focuses on the early 1990s, from the beginning of Andreotti's seventh government in 1991 until his trial in 1996, during which time he lost a bid to become President and was undermined by Mafia turncoats who testified against him.

Roger Ebert described "Il Divo" as "like a black comedy version of The Godfather". I can't think of a more apt description. This is satire, though many of the events of the film actually happened. Andreotti (Toni Servillo) is almost a comically absurd character, in spite of the violence, and speaks about himself with an ironic tone. This is all the more amazing because Giulio Andreotti is still living. The Italian political system is portrayed as farce. Andreotti is a laconic man, enigmatic and apparently self-consciously so. He is known for his lack of emotion, so Paul Sorrentino felt the need to introduce some into a character that might seem wooden otherwise. Andreotti's preoccupation with the 1978 death of Aldo Moro, which troubles him in the film, is fictional as far as anyone knows.

Being unfamiliar with Italian politics, I don't know what else has been fictionalized. What captivated me about "Il Divo" is that it is unusually cinematic. There is not a lot of dialogue, though Andreotti's meetings with the members of his faction, the fast-talking Paolo Pomicino (Carlo Buccirosso), slow Vittorio Shardella (Massimo Popolizio), and foolish Franco Evangelisti (Flavio Bucci), are darkly hilarious. The film lacks a strong narrative thread but is visually engrossing. Luca Bigazzi's camera creeps around. The eclectic score is perfect. I was never sure what Giulio Andreotti wanted, unless it is "perpetuating evil to guarantee good", as he says, and "Il Divo" takes patience. But this is a stunning and thoughtful film, even if it doesn't try to go anywhere. In Italian with optional English subtitles.

The DVD (MPI 2009): Bonus features include 11 deleted scenes (12 min) and 3 featurettes. "Making of Il Divo" (30 min) interviews writer/director Sorrentino about his approach, members of the cast, producers, cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, and composer Teho Teardo. "Special Effects Featurette" (7 min) interviews visual effects supervisor Nicola Sganga and shows some examples of effects used to change the weather, time of day, or in the many death scenes. In "Interview with Director Paolo Sorrentino" (12 min), the director talks about the character of Andreotti and making a film that is both fictional and factual. English subtitles are available for the film and the bonus features.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2010
Format: DVD
Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti (Toni Servillo) had been elected to Parliament seven times since it's inception in 1946. Having served in multiple roles in the government including President of the Council of Ministers, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Defense Minister, Andreotti was known by many names including "The God Giulio," "The Fox," "Beelzebub," "The Black Pope," "The Prince of Darkness," "The Hunchback," and others. After losing a bid for President of the Republic, Andreotti is confronted for allegedly having dealings with the mafia which, among others, led to the death of his friend Aldo Moro. Blamed for many of the ills that have befallen Italy during his times in office, Andreotti is sent to trial for his supposed mafia ties.

Il Divo won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival and was released in January of 2009 to US audiences. Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, Il Divo is a look into the moral ambiguity of a man who doesn't prize relationships, only politics. Rarely does Giulio Andreotti crack a smile or show any emotion at all, but in Sorrentino's look at the man you see the effects of the emotions that eat away at him from the inside. Surrounding himself with men, good and bad, Andreotti feels that he's doing what's best for the country, even if he gets there by the improper means sometimes. While this works great for a simple character study, is this enough to get audiences beyond those that would normally watch foreign films into it?

Absolutely! Sorrentino gives the film a very stylish flare worthy of Martin Scorsese. Utilizing quick cuts, pop/ rock music, intersting titles, etc. Showing various scenes of graphic violence intercut with more mundane moments in Andreottie's life shows the difference between the calm exterior of Andreotti and the violence that possibly bubbles below leaving you to wonder if Andreotti was behind the violence as was purposed, or did he have nothing to do with it. This is one of the keys to Sorrentino's great film, while we see Andreotti as something of a soulless person for most of the film, we're never really given the filmmaker's opinion of whether Andreotti is guilty or not. Removing himself from the film, Sorrentino accomplishes something most filmmakers are unable to accomplish.

What really makes this movie though, is Toni Servillo's portrayal of Giulio Andreotti. The real trick of this performance is appearing unemotional on the surface, but also showing the current bubbling beneath the surface from past decisions that are eating away at him. In one brilliant moment in the movie, Andreotti appears to be either talking to his wife, or practicing a conversation he's going to have with her, and in essence speaks to the audience talking about things that he's done in the past that have caused people to die, and the speech is brilliant and could easily be compared to Jack Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth..." speech from A Few Good Men.

On the downside of the film though, it's impenetrable in the terms of politics. Il Divo doesn't really try to explain Italian politics, and while that's good to a certain extent, those of us who aren't familiar with Italian politics will get lost at times. Also the film seems more interested in being consciously stylish that it doesn't really feel like it is the political commentary that it tries to be.

But, in terms of entertainment, this movie definitely delivers. If you like political dramas, Scorsese style movies, or foreign films I highly recommend this film. It is thoroughly entertaining giving you a mix of political drama, action, and a character study of a man who would do anything for the politics of a nation.

4/5
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
IL DIVO is a brilliantly acted and beautifully photographed film with some incredible artwork and design. Paulo Sorrentino's expose of the Italian regime presents both sides of a contentious story in an equal and frank portrayal. Highly reccomend this film to fans of arthouse cinema and anyone who appreciates strong, quality acting and writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2013
Format: DVD
"Power wears out those who don't have it."
- Andreotti

Stylish Italian film whose complex subject is Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. His above remark provides a clue to his love of being in power - at all costs.

Don't be misled by the trailer. This film is more subtle than that.

Andreotti's political path always seemed to be smoothed for him by hidden forces.

He lived in a luxurious apartment building directly opposite the Vatican. Critics called him "The Black Pope".

Andreotti served in 24 Italian governments from 1947 to 1992. He was embroiled in more than 20 different court cases or public inquiries. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison for ordering the murder of journalist Mino Pecorelli in 1979. (Pecorelli had been publishing a few inconvenient articles.) Andreotti was later cleared of the murder rap by an appeals court. As a result, he never did any time in the slammer.

He died on 6th May 2013, aged 94.

I've watched this Machiavellian film twice and shall watch it again.

By the way, the word "Divo" seems to be the masculine form of "Diva" (From the Latin "Divus").
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
A brilliant film based on the complex and enigmatic character of Andreotti, and Italy itself. The Italian political scene during the Christian Democrats' reign was rife with clientelism, corruption and terrorism. Servillo's portrait of Andreotti is appropriately ambiguous and opaque. The primary strength of this film is Sorrentino's masterful direction, settings, framing, film composition and montage. Plus, any film that can successfully incorporate Trio's 'da da da' into a soundtrack predominately composed of classical music deserves commendation. Bravo!!!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
I bring perhaps a different perspective to this film since I was closely involved in Italian affairs while at the U.S. State Department in the 1970's and 1980's. Many of the characters' names were familiar to me and I met a few of them personally including Andreotti himself as Foreign Minister and Prime Ministers Fanfani, Craxi and Spadolini.

That said, I found this film more allegorical than illuminating. I did enjoy it especially visually, and the portrayals of the physical Andreotti and his laconic philosophical above-the-fray long-range perspectives and utterances and his quietly sardonic style were exquisite. And those ears! A great make-up job. Plus I enjoyed the refresher course in the Italian language. I could follow much of the film without the captions.

Beyond those aspects though, the film was too allegorical and hard to follow. And if it was so for me, I would imagine it would be even more so for the general American audience and even for many younger Italians. Still, the rich visual imagery and cinematography brought back to me many memories of Italy itself from my service in her and about her at the State Department.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
After watching Paolo Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty", I wanted to know more about his other works. "Il Divo" is not as spectacular, but it describes Andreotti's and Italy's predicament in a very cinematic language, both somber and enlightening.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 8, 2009
Format: DVD
"Il Divo," (2008), is an Italian-language film, written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino. It is a biographical drama about the life of Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who had been elected to the Italian Parliament seven times since its establishment in 1946, and was ultimately declared a senator for life. It stars Toni Servillo in the title role. "Il divo" means the maestro, or master, in Italian, and is generally used in a musical sense, but this is apparently what people call the uber-powerful Andreotti, who was rumored to have connections with the Mafia, and to the murder, by the Red Brigades, of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Many people believe Andreotti, who is thought to be a member of P2, the powerful, illegal Italian Masonic lodge, also had a hand in the possible 1978 murder of Pope John Paul I, and the murders of Cardinal Paul Marcinkus, of Chicago, and banker Roberto Calvi, all to do with the Vatican's corrupt Banco Ambrosiano that apparently lost Mafia money.

Servillo does an excellent job of giving us a thoroughly unattractive, evil politician; the character actors who play the supporting parts around him are excellent, as well; and the film does, of course, have subtitles, though I suspect most English speakers will have trouble, even so, with all those Italian names. The settings, whether interiors, or around Rome, are well-done, and there's been no stinting on cars, extras, etc. The script is witty, and wise. However, director Sorrentino perhaps mistrusted his material, as he has chosen to fool around with flashbacks and flash-forwards; to me, this just made the movie even more difficult to follow. And be warned, the film features a lot of blood and death, if that upsets you. Yet, it's also got some marvelously surrealistic scenes, as those of a cat with two different colored eyes wandering the Quirino, the historic Senate building. Undoubtedly, though, it will be a more satisfying experience for those with some familiarity with the language and history of Italy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Watch this movie if you want to understand Italian mentality and how politics have changed in the last years. Very nice movie.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
This is a stately and magnificent film about Italian politics, the Mafia, corruption and the Vatican. The cinematography is intense and captivating. This is an involving film, one I will rewatch. Comparisons to Scorsese are justified.

Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys
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