Country: Italy, France
Language: Italian, German
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Marco Bellocchio
Writers: Marco Bellocchio, Daniela Ceselli
Fausto Russo Alesi
Pier Giorgio Bellocchio
The film is about Mussolini’s secret lover Ida Dalser’s tragic story. I know it is an important Italian film last year, but for me, before watching it, I even haven’t seen a picture of Mussolini (fortunately enough at least I know who he is), and now, I think he looks a little bit like Robert Duvall (hope it is not an offense, to Signor Duvall).
The well-recognized director Marco Bellocchio just passed 70, and as a disciple of Pasolini, through half a century, his films mainly are somewhat political-related, which explains very much why I haven’t watched his other films yet. But after this one, I am more than happily to appreciate his other works, to name a few FISTS IN THE POCKET (PUGNI IN TASCA) (1965) his debut, HENRY IV (1984).
It’s a dark film, not only because of its palette (mainly depressive blue and purple, with scenes mostly happen in the night and later, inside a mental hospital), but also infused by the fate of our protagonist Ida Dalser (a marvelous Giovanna Mezzogiorno, whom I often mistake as Sarah McLanchlan). The reason why people (at least myself) love to watch tragic or dramatic films is because generally speaking, our own lives are not so turbulent, we need to see something to exercise or release our emotions, to make them move a little bit in case they will become numb. And I believe that dramatic films are much easier to make as often, the story itself has already been tantalizing enough so what the worst could it be? We have already prepared the tissue paper before the screen is lightening.
I have to admit this film handled the sensitive topic skillfully, which proves that while aging, Marco is improving his skills too (which is so rare as we all know, 70s is definitely not a golden-era for directors), most obviously by substituting Filippo Timi’s performance with black-white footages of real Mussolini in the latter part of the film, make sure the focus is Ida herself, as a man becomes the leader of a nation, he no longer belongs to any single person, at the same time any single person becomes trivial to him as well. I think Ida couldn’t get through this, her love is blind, hormone-driven, but we feel sympathy for her because this is what we believe true love should be.
It is a pity I’m not an Italian or I could have known more about Mussolini, otherwise I could enjoy more (or maybe not!). Anyway I am happy to see the surviving Italian directors from golden age still strive for making excellent films at a time when even Nanni Moretti has become legendary.