Il Divo (Review)

Stylized drama a monument to Italy's shadowy political landscape

Hard on the heels of the acclaimed Gomorrah, Italian corruption gets a much quieter but equally vigorous workout in Paolo Sorrentino’s highly stylized portrait of the country’s most enduring political leader, Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti (Toni Servillo). Teflon doesn’t begin to describe the Christian Democrat who led one after another of Italy’s rapid succession of administrations and survived a major bribery and corruption investigation, while opponents and former allies dropped mysteriously dead around him.

Il Divo plays like an elegantly ritualized black comedy, with Sorrentino deploying every formal tool in his arsenal to disrupt facile interpretations of Andreotti’s strategically opaque character. Servillo plays Andreotti with brilliant restraint as a physically disconnected man whose curling ears and still round-shouldered gait hilariously — and pathetically — recall the desiccated food critic Anton Ego from Ratatouille. We learn that Andreotti was a cultured wit with a gift — like this movie — for aphoristic quotation; that he suffered from debilitating headaches; that, in his way, he loved his wife, who, in hers, loved him back.

His solitary, nocturnal strolls, surrounded by burly blokes with machine guns, offer one of the movie’s few clues to the price he paid for his obsessive lock hold on power. Aside from an imaginary “confession” in which he grows momentarily unhinged, Andreotti remains a properly unknowable monument on his country’s shadowy, shady political landscape. Grade: B

Opens Oct. 23. Check out theaters and show times, see more photos from the film and get theater details here.