Wednesday, March 24, 2010
This film is currently in theaters and on pay per view on the IFC in Theaters service.
This is the story of Ida Dalser who met Benito Mussolini before the First World War and gave herself over to him body and soul. She sold everything she had so he could produce a newsletter. She also bore him a son out of wedlock. Unfortunately upon returning from the war he dumped her and began to take steps to erase or marginalize any unfortunate bits of his past. The result was her institutionalization and worse.
Grand tragedy of an operatic sort, this is the story of one woman's story that may or may not be true (there isn't enough information to completely accept nor dismiss the tale of the romance). I have no idea if its true or not but it does make for one hell of a tale.
Beautiful to look at this is one of the most sumptuous films of the year. This is a film that looks and feel like what big epic tales should look like. Watching this film last night on TV I was simply in awe of what was on the screen. This is one of those films that's filled with stunning images that never cease to amaze. If you like great looking films this is a must see.
Giovanna Mezzogiorno is heart breaking as Mussolini's discarded mistress. What she goes through will break your heart, even as you shout at the screen because you know she's being foolish. Its a great performance that is utterly believable, you believe that she really is that in love with Il Duce which makes it all the more terrible.
The real find here is Filippo Timi as Il Duce and his son. While he looks nothing like the real man he completely sells you on the notion that he is the man. There in all its glory is the charisma that enchanted not only Ida but the whole country of Italy as well. Its a staggering achievement that I mark as one of the high points of the film year. Frankly had I seen this film before I had put last week's best acting choices together I would have included this as well. If you want to see how good he is watch the final piece of his performance where, as the younger Mussolini, acts out the speech his father is giving on the radio. Forget Heath Ledger as the Joker, this man is insane.
Technically this film is hands down one of the best of the year. Between the music, the photography and performances this film is hands down one of the best of the year.
The problem is that the film turns rather cold. Ida's story, on a certain level, has no where to go. She's mad about the boy and he wants nothing to do with her. It can only end up in tears and at a certain point its too clear where this is heading. Emotionally the film stalls and what should be a film that you love with all of your heart, instead it becomes a film that you like and admire.
Reservations aside- this is a movie that you MUST see if you love movies. Sure it may not hit a home run out of the park, but it is, ultimately what movies are suppose to look like and act like.