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For more than 50 years, he has been Italy s most powerful, feared and enigmatic politician. And as Giulio Andreotti begins his seventh term as Prime Minister, he and his hardliner faction take control of a country reeling from the brazen murders of several high-level bankers, judges and journalists, as well as the kidnapping and assassination of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro. But as the Christian Democrat party crumbles in a nationwide bribery scandal, suspicion begins to fall on Andreotti himself as the center of a shocking conspiracy involving the Vatican, the Mafia and the secret neo-Fascist Masonic Lodge P2. In what is called The Trial Of The Century, Italy s legendary Senator for Life will stand accused of corruption, collusion and murder.
One of the best reviewed films of the year
Subtitled "the extraordinary life of Giulio Andreotti," director-writer Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo details the latter portion of the reign of Italy's seven-time prime minister, the leader of the Christian Democratic Party for some 50 years and a guy with more nicknames than James Brown: in addition to Il Divo, Andreotti, who is now in his nineties, has been known as the Sphinx, the Salamander, the Hunchback, Beelzebub, and the Black Pope, among others. He is also widely believed to have been directly connected to the Mafia; and perhaps most infamously, Andreotti was blamed for the death of popular centrist rival Aldo Moro, whom he refused to help when Moro was abducted and then assassinated by leftist radicals in 1978. We first see Andreotti (portrayed by Toni Servillo) in the early 1990s, by which time he has been named Senator for Life and is quietly gloating over the fact that he's outlived nearly everyone who tried to bring him down; by the end, he's the defiant, unrepentant defendant in Italy's Trial of the Century, accused of all sorts of nefarious deeds, including conspiracy, corruption, and murder. In between are a series of exquisite, indelible scenes and images, such as Andreotti walking the streets of Rome in the wee small hours, surrounded by gun-toting bodyguards (Gabriel Faure's Pavane, the soundtrack in this scene, is but one example of the consistently brilliant use of music, from classical to techno), or the shots of various enemies being eliminated in moments of operatic violence (it's not for nothing that Sorrentino's work has been compared to Coppola and Scorsese's). Servillo, somewhat reminiscent of the late Peter Sellers, delivers a mannered but beautifully measured performance as a man described as "incapable of doubts or thrills." He's as cold and stiff as a wax figure, yet while he speaks quietly (in part due to debilitating migraines), what he does say is usually memorable; invited to dance at one gathering, he replies, "I don't succumb to lesser vices," and when urged to run for President of the Republic, he accepts by saying, "I know I'm of average height, but I don't see any giants around." A triumph of both style and substance, Il Divo is not only one of the best foreign films of 2008, but one of the best films, period. --Sam GrahamSee all Editorial Reviews
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A movie treatment of such a character could have easily failed due to the extreme blandness of the main protagonist. This movie does not. Il Divo (“the divine”) is the best political drama to come out in many years. It convincingly and dramatically portrays not only the sinister, secretive psyche of Andreotti, but engagingly shows the Byzantine, labyrinthine, raucous, rough and tumble nature of Italian politics, where alliances and allegiances are made and broken by the minute, and shows the complex relationships Andreotti carried out in his personal and political cohorts life. It also successfully shows how amid the chaos and uproar, Andreotti always emerged unscathed, even when he was tried for murder. The Teflon Prime Minister.
It is also a portrait of a tortured soul. Andreotti in life suffered from migraines all his professional political career. His placid external, calm demeanor and whispering voice was due no doubt that if he were to spoke too loud he would fall apart. That persona betrayed the horrorshow that lurked below. The film implies, but does not actually posit, that these migraines were the result of the tremendous conflict and pressure of being a part of so many sordid political adventures.
There is a definite surrealistic feel to this movie, a fitting complement to the character it portrays. (A possible spoiler): Andreotti apparently resorted to acupuncture treatments to treat his migraines. In the very beginning of the film the camera freezes on the face of Andreotti, his face full of needles.
This very first scene sets the tone of the entire movie. The soundtrack vacillates between pop songs and eerie tonal ambient pieces, which is entirely consistent with Andreotti’s creepy visage.
The movie succeeds so well because director Sorrentino has skillfully chosen to employ both documentary-like features and dramatic portrayal to the story of Guilio Andreotti. The docu-drama features of this movie feeding the audience with intermittent banners telling the story of those associated with Andreotti is absolutely necessary. Of all of the political leaders of Western Europe, Andreotti was perhaps the most unfamiliar. He attended along with the other leaders whenever a G7 Conference was convened. But he was also the most unnoticeable among the politicians, and almost always the most diminutive figure. President Clinton and ValeryGistard D’Estaing, both of whom are tall people, towered over him.
Most do not know of him, and don’t know of him still, and this is the way he would have wanted it. You’ll get the complete picture when seeing this movie.
Tony Servillo - possibly the best actor in Italy and one of the best in the world makes his character - the Prime Minister of Italy Giulio Andreotti - mysterious, dangerous and in the same time a tragic figure.
If you follow Italian politics, this is a penetrating analysis of an Italian political figure that sheds light on the nature of Italian politics themselves. That is, it goes beyond the psedo biographical.
It is an outstanding job that makes you feel like there is hope for Italian cinema after Fellini.