Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Italy/France, 2009. Offside, Rai Cinema, Celluloid Dreams, Istituto Luce, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Eurimages, Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Film Commission Torino-Piemonte, Film Commission Regione Piemonte. Story by Marco Bellocchio, Screenplay by Marco Bellocchio, Daniela Ceselli. Cinematography by Daniele Cipri. Produced by Mario Gianani. Music by Carlo Crivelli. Production Design by Marco Dentici. Costume Design by Sergio Ballo. Film Editing by Francesca Calvelli. Cannes Film Festival 2009. Toronto International Film Festival 2009.
Historical drama by Marco Bellocchio reveals the little-known story of Ida Dalser, mistress to Benito Mussolini, who may have actually been his first legal wife before he threw her over for a more suitable spouse to suit his political ambitions. Ignored and abandoned by him, and left with a son to raise, Dalser (played with great passion by Giovanna Mezzogiorno) is adamant about getting her great lover back into her life and forcing him to face up to his responsibilities, while he rises in power towards his encounter with destiny as leader of the Fascist movement in Italy. One woman against a giant machine is not much of a challenge, however, and it is not long before she is placed in a mental institution as a way of silencing her. Bellocchio surprises his audience with this surprisingly passionate film, invigorating and exciting in its use of richly melodramatic conflicts between its characters, heightened by expressive uses of beautifully lit cinematography, radical editing and a rich musical score. The performers are perfectly in line with his style, all blazing eyes and thunderous voices, with Mezzogiorno the most heartbreaking for being so admirable and pathetic at the same time.