"Il Divo," (2008), is an Italian-language film, written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino. It
is a biographical drama about the life of Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who had
been elected to the Italian Parliament seven times since its establishment in 1946, and
was ultimately declared a senator for life. It stars Toni Servillo in the title role. "Il divo"
means the maestro, or master, in Italian, and is generally used in a musical sense, but this
is apparently what people call the uber-powerful Andreotti, who was rumored to have
connections with the Mafia, and to the murder, by the Red Brigades, of former Italian
Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Many people believe Andreotti, who is thought to be a
member of P2, the powerful, illegal Italian Masonic lodge, also had a hand in the possible
1978 murder of Pope John Paul I, and the murders of Cardinal Paul Marcinkus, of
Chicago, and banker Roberto Calvi, all to do with the Vatican's corrupt Banco
Ambrosiano that apparently lost Mafia money.
Servillo does an excellent job of giving us a thoroughly unattractive, evil politician; the
character actors who play the supporting parts around him are excellent, as well; and the
film does, of course, have subtitles, though I suspect most English speakers will have
trouble, even so, with all those Italian names. The settings, whether interiors, or around
Rome, are well-done, and there's been no stinting on cars, extras, etc. The script is witty,
and wise. However, director Sorrentino perhaps mistrusted his material, as he has chosen
to fool around with flashbacks and flash-forwards; to me, this just made the movie even
more difficult to follow. And be warned, the film features a lot of blood and death, if that
upsets you. Yet, it's also got some marvelously surrealistic scenes, as those of a cat with
two different colored eyes wandering the Quirino, the historic Senate building.
Undoubtedly, though, it will be a more satisfying experience for those with some
familiarity with the language and history of Italy.