Film Review: Loro
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scamarcio, Kasia Smutniak, Euridice Axen, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Roberto De Francesco, Dario Cantarelli, Anna Bonaiuto, Alice Pagani, Mattia Sbragia
Running Time: 151
Australian Distributor: Palace Films
Paolo Sorrentino’s Loro finds the mega-talented Italian director returning to his world of Fellini-esque excess and his leading man Toni Servillo. The star of “Il Divo” and “The Great Beauty” plays Silvio Berlusconi, but we don’t even meet him until about an hour into the 150-minute movie, which was originally released as two 100-or-so-minute movies in Italy. Therefore, you can imagine quite a bit has been cut to shape this into a movie.
Grifting businessman Sergio (Riccardo Scarmarcio) is working his way up the political food chain of influence. We first meet him schmoozing a local official in order to win a lucrative contract to supply the region’s school meals. He insists that he’s not for sale right up until the point that Silvio brings aboard his gorgeous business partner Tamara (Euridice Axen), who has an acrobatic talent for persuasion.
Sex, glamour and drugs are Sergio’s stock in trade, so he organises a party designed to catch Silvio’s philandering eye. Combining the social satire of Fellini with the sinful hedonism of latter-day Scorsese – think La Dolce Vita via The Wolf of Wall Street – the party sequences are a riot of decadence. Luca Bigazzi’s cinematography is a stunning kaleidoscope of colour, naked pleasure and voyeurism; it’s at once a vision of desire and shattering, vacuous ugliness.
The exploitative and deeply misogynistic display becomes almost profound in its excess. As we ogle these statuesque visions of desire, classical notions of aesthetic beauty itself seem to fall apart as just another form of idolatry.
At the top of this vacuous hegemony is Silvio himself. A magnificent construction of pure vanity, his is face buried under a top soil of ludicrous make up and a permanent, vacillating grin, like a wax work come to life. It’s important that he rarely feels threatening – his oafish philandering and terrible jokes masking the empire of financial and political clout that he has amassed, and as a salesman he is terrifyingly persuasive. Indeed, with his embittered wife Veronica (a wonderfully sour Elena Sofia Ricci), and his cult-of-personality politics, one wonders if Loro is about another, more contemporary perma-tanned gangster-politician.
The final act leaves an ageing Silvio to contemplate the void alone. Perhaps, in a dark night of the soul, he will even make amends to a few of those he has grifted – he does, after all, make good on his promise to replace the homes lost in the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake. Yet as the camera drifts silently over a marble statue of Christ, pristine among the rubble, it settles on the faces of the townsfolk, and we are we left to ponder the depth and vanity of even that act of altruism.
Top technical work includes Lele Marchitelli’s score, which creates a happening atmosphere for Luca Bigazzi’s elegant-grotesque cinematography and Stefania Cella’s stunning Italian villas. Special mention goes to Carlo Poggioli for his riveting, barely there costumes for most of the female cast.
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