Toni Servillo as Giulio Andreotti sitting still in the midst of a chaotic government chamberalr

Il Divo
(Il divo – La spettacolare vita di Giulio Andreotti)

Screening on Film
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
With Toni Servillo, Anna Bonaiuto, Giulio Bosetti.
Italy/France, 2008, 35mm, color, 110 min.
Italian and English with English subtitles.
Print source: MPI Media Group

Sorrentino controversially interweaved black comedy and operatic melodrama to craft his arresting and devious portrait of the ruthlessly corrupt and cynical Giulio Andreotti, whose long-term rule normalized an openly transactional relationship in Italy between the government and the Mafia. Il Divo openly channels the epic crime films of Coppola and Francesco Rosi to unfurl the larger tapestry of internecine feuds and selfish gambits woven during Andreotti’s extended tenure. Toni Servillo stars, once again, transformed now into a neurotic and enigmatically wooden hunched figure, spouting Latin aphorisms that are either wise or ridiculous, while knowingly allowing the worst abuses of power by colleagues whose vices and weaknesses are everywhere apparent. A kind of sinister optical illusion, the eponymous “Il Divo”—one of many names for the invincible Andreotti—becomes, in Sorrentino’s films, an emblem of abusive and addictive power, evidencing the ease with which fear can be sharpened as a political sword.

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