CINEMA: The Soprano

il_divo_poster.jpgIL DIVO (2008, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, 110 minutes, Italy)


Set mostly in the late 1980s, before something called “The Bribesville Scandal” brought down his Christian Democratic Party, Il Divo looks at the world through the heavily-lidded eyes of Giulio Andreotti’s, widely regarded as the most influential Italian political figure of the 20th. In his late eighties, Andreotti seems calcified by his own corruption, his shoulders hunched and his face a near-emotionless mask.  He spends his time being escorted from one beautiful ancient room to the next, living his life in unacknowledged splendor, while occasionally making some vaguely foreboding comment that will lead to violence somewhere far out of his view. We witness the down-and-dirty though, as the film makes frequent asides of the political rub-outs, staged in a style that suggests The Sopranos greatest hits. Then we cut back to Andreotti, going through his day with all the emotion of an insect.

Director Sorrentino gives us just a hint at what is rumbling inside this nearly inscrutable man; he suffers from constant migraines and admits that what bothers him most about his corruption trial is that he might lose his Presidency of the National Music Society. “I prefer to think of myself as a man of culture rather than Statesman” is a rare personal confession.

One probing journalist does dare to sit down and list the number of Andreotti’s adversaries who have died violent deaths.  Could it be coincidence? “I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe in the will of God” Andreotti replies. The crimes that Andreotti appears to have been a part of are so brazen you may find yourself rooting for his comeuppance.  It is for naught; Andreotti’s black heart seems incapable of shame and his power makes him appear to be beyond the reach of the law. The best you can hope for is the exchange that happens during Andreotti’s trial, when Andreotti privately speaks to his former secretary. He’s not sad, not scared; he’s bored. With a man whose crimes have smothered his soul, perhaps boredom is the only is punishment to which he is vulnerable.

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