Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: Il divo: La spettacolare vita di Giulio Andreotti
Italy/France, 2008. Indigo Film, Lucky Red, Parco Film, Babe Film, StudioCanal, Arte France Cinéma, Sky Cinema, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Fonds Eurimages du Conseil de l’Europe, Film Commission Torino-Piemonte, Regione Campania, Campania Film Commission, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Barter Films. Screenplay by Paolo Sorrentino. Cinematography by Luca Bigazzi. Produced by Francesca Cima, Nicola Giuliano, Andrea Occhipinti. Music by Teho Teardo. Production Design by Lino Fiorito. Costume Design by Daniela Ciancio. Film Editing by Cristiano Travaglioli.
The superbly fascinating career of Giulio Andreotti is given the impressionist treatment in this gorgeously filmed drama by Paolo Sorrentino. Toni Servillo is outstanding in the lead role, with excellent makeup work helping to transform him into the Italian Prime Minister who won seven elections before his final term ended in scandal and disgrace. Andreotti manages to avoid being connected to the rumours being thrown around about illegal activities and mafia ties, hauled into court an impressive amount of times without any of the allegations ever sticking. Through it all he maintains a calm, sardonic demeanor that never betrays desperation or anger, until finally his lucks runs out in the mid-90s and Andreotti’s past starts to make itself known. What exactly that past is, Sorrentino is hardly interested in detailing; this film is not an expose, nor is it a typical biopic, but rather it uses curious rhythms and unconventional editing techniques to show a man who is the calm in the center of his own storm; it’s quite possible that Andreotti’s maintenance of grace under pressure in a government overrun with ambitious, questionably moral men is what made him enemies more than anything else. Either way, it’s not a film that has a heart—and, quite frankly, it doesn’t need one—instead dazzling with its pace and non-judgmental look at a world where desire is the only thing that counts. Call it the anti-Gomorrah, with its emphasis on carefully staged visuals and florid camera movements where Matteo Garrone’s crime epic was bent on grungy realism.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Makeup
Cannes Film Festival Award: Jury Prize
European Film Award: Best European Actor (Toni Servillo)
Nominations: Best European Film; Best European Director (Paolo Sorrentino); Best European Screenwriter; Best European Cinematographer
Toronto International Film Festival: 2008