Friday, June 25, 2010

Vincere (2009, Marco Bellocchio)

It’s rare to see a movie with an emotional pitch as high as Marco Bellocchio finds in Vincere. The later scenes in There Will Be Blood were awfully fevered, but even the preternaturally confident PTA didn’t attempt to sustain it throughout an entire film, although Magnolia came awfully close. So it’s sort of awe-inspiring to witness Bellocchio maintain such this tone throughout Vincere. From the central performances of Filippo Timi as the young Mussolini and the blistering Giovanna Mezzogiorno as his obsessed first mistress on down, there’s almost nothing subtle about this movie. But then, why should there be? Vincere story is a sad saga of real-life injustice, an impassioned woman who was steamrolled by a man’s ambition and buried by a system that would do anything to reward his success. Sure, she clearly had a few issues, but it doesn’t make it right that Il Duce would lock her up and take away their son simply to protect his image in ultra-Catholic Italy.

Compared to most biopics, Vincere’s script is extremely elliptical, hitting nothing but the key points of the Ida Dasler story to the extent that non-Italians might get lost at some point. Bellocchio careens from one big scene to the next with no down time (as Krusty the Klown might say, it’s the tightest 122 minutes in showbiz), resulting in a lack of depth to the story. Similarly, even if Bellocchio’s brio doesn’t flag, the story itself does, growing repetitive in the final hour. Really, there are only so many ways to liven up Ida screaming out the truth only to be slapped down by the authorities. But while I wasn’t particularly moved or fulfilled by Vincere, I found it fascinating all the same. Asked to choose a word to describe it, I’d have to pick “operatic”- indeed, a handful of the characters break out in song during the film- and I for one would be excited to see Bellocchio (or someone just as capable) tackle this story in opera form. As is, it’s not great, but it’s pretty awesome all the same.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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