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Loro, Part One

Directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
With Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scamarcio.
Italy/France, 2018, DCP, color, 104 min.
Italian with English subtitles.
DCP source: IFC

A partially fictionalized biopic of realtor-turned-media tycoon-turned Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Loro expands Sorrentino’s abiding fascination with divisive power relations by dedicating equal time to both closely observing Berlusconi in action and capturing the inner circles of craven gold diggers, awestruck naifs and servile enablers that desperately surround him. Loro was released in Italy as a diptych whose first part follows a young pimp determined to reap some of the infamy, fortune and corrupt influence seemingly bestowed upon Berlusconi’s minions. Renting a house near Berlusconi’s lavish Sardinian villa, the young man gradually learns what it means to become one of “loro” (Italian for “them”) ever chasing after the elusive Him. A propulsive and dazzling display of stylistic bravura, Part One follows the young grifter’s determined path towards the instant success he adamantly believes he deserves, with Berlusconi himself only appearing midway through the film in a surprisingly ruminative mood, paused between his many terms in office and considering his next wily strategy. The inexhaustible bacchanalia staged for Berlusconi’s benefit continues in Part Two, which also turns inward to focus on Berlusconi struggling—despite his many flagrant infidelities—with the painful separation from his wife as well as the specter of old age. Blending acerbic satire with melancholy reflection on the lasting damage done to the Italian nation and psyche, Loro immersively pulls the viewer in and out of an endless debauched party in order to question how a decadent cult of youth, beauty and corrupt influence could be accepted as a political norm.

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