Hard on the heels of the acclaimed Gomorrah, Italian corruption gets a much quieter but equally vigorous workout in Paolo Sorrentinos highly stylized portrait of the countrys most enduring political leader, Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. Teflon doesnt begin to describe the Christian Democrat who led one after another of Italys rapid succession of administrations and survived a major bribery and corruption investigation, while opponents and former allies dropped mysteriously dead around him. Il Divoplays like an elegantly ritualized black comedy, with Sorrentino deploying every formal tool in his arsenal to disrupt facile interpretations of Andreottis strategically opaque character. Toni Servillo plays Andreotti with brilliant restraint as a physically disconnected man whose curling ears and still, round-shouldered gait hilariouslyand patheticallyrecall the desiccated food critic Anton Ego from Ratatouille. We learn that Andreotti was a cultured wit with a giftlike this moviefor aphoristic quotation; that he suffered from debilitating headaches; that, in his way, he loved his wife, who loved him back in hers. His solitary nocturnal strolls, surrounded by burly blokes with machine guns, offer one of the movies few clues to the price he paid for his obsessive lockhold on power. Aside from an imaginary confession in which he grows momentarily unhinged, Andreotti remains a properly unknowable monument on his countrys shadowy, shady political landscape.
May 15-21, 2009