Sunday, January 27, 2013

Films Watched 2013: #2

Vincere (2009)

We began our new film club season with Marco Bellochio's extravagantly melodramatic Vincere, the story of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini's secret lover, Ida Dalser, who bankrolled his rise to power and conceived a son for him only to be denied once he'd achieved that power. A heady mix of sexual desire and political unrest at first, recreating the rise of fascism with newsreel footage and on-screen Futurist slogans, the film gradually resolves into a compelling study of one woman's bloody-minded refusal to let go of what she believes is her right and her son's. It's hard to know, though, whether to admire her or despair at her near-suicidal delusion. Giovanna Mezzogiorno can't quite generate the sympathy required to make us really care what happens to Ida. She seems spurned by power as much as love, robbed of her chance to lord it over the nation, to see her son heir to a new imperial dynasty. Which isn't to take away from Mezzogiorno's powerful performance or Filippo Timi's marvellous bug-eyed intensity as Mussolini. But for all the near-operatic passion of the story, its heightened emotions, what really stands out is Bellochio's bravura direction, mixing painterly composition with experimental daring to great effect.

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