Fans of ‘Frost/Nixon’ will be delighted to hear that there is an opportunity to witness the rise and fall of yet another disgraced politician. The Cannes Jury Prize-winning 'Il Divo' is a biopic of a former Italian Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti.
The film opens on the eve of Andreotti’s seventh election, amid an unprecedented amount of scandal, alleged mafia links and accusations of corruption.
The bombardment of characters, political developments and trials take away from this intense portrait of a political mastermind. The film begins with an essential Italian glossary of terms, but it, along with the cool credits, whizzes by too quickly to fully aid comprehension of the action that follows.
‘Il Divo’ works hard on its image to be a great looking film, and it is. Sorrentino more than tips his hat to film greats such as ‘The Godfather’ and in one scene includes allegorical references to The Last Supper. 'Le Conseguenze dell'amore' director has a distinctive, rich style, which he uses to full effect here. Using a lot of rich Vatican red and exceptional lighting, accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack, he highlights the numerous assassinations that surrounded the final years of Andreotti's reign. Surprisingly, the more violent the deaths, the more beautiful the scenes.
Toni Servillo gives an outstanding performance as the dislikeable, unrelatable-yet-fascinating former Prime Minister. Delicate of health but strong of mind, Andreotti’s lack of fear is matched only by his cunning to outsmart his would-be captors. On trial on over 25 occasions, he was constantly acquitted.
In summarising Andreotti, the former Italian journalist Indro Montanelli may well have summarised the film’s ethos: "You’re either the most annoying criminal in the country because you never get caught or you’re the most persecuted man in the history of Italy."
‘Il Divo’ has certainly helped lift the veil of mystery surrounding the man, if not his legacy.