By robbiefreeling | REVERSEBLOG: the reverse shot blog April 23, 2009 at 10:32AM
In America, we’re used to political biopics with subjects chosen for one of two reasons: to humanize an otherwise historically reviled figure (as Oliver Stone attempted with Nixon and W) or to just retrace an already existent halo around his or her head (hagiographies as varied as Young Mr. Lincoln and Milk come to mind). That’s why Paolo Sorrentino’s Il Divo, a dark-hued treatment of Italy’s infamous prime minister Giulio Andreotti, might come as a surprise to audiences here. Some generous, and historically uninitiated, viewers (i.e., most non-Italians who see this alternately obscure and glib film) will prescribe its presentation of Andreotti’s withering days of power as something of a “national exorcism.” But Sorrentino’s seeming motivation for telling the story of this grandiosely corrupt politician is not to humanize but to trap. And under the pulverizing cinematic techniques of this ecstatically unforgiving filmmaker, this powerful, loathed world leader is little more than a squashed bug.