Once in a blue moon, when I was young, my parents would take myself and my siblings off to see an Italian film. The occasion was rare, not because my folks didn’t want to see Italian cinema often, but because the genre was virtually non-existent in Australia in the late 1970s.
Of course, Australia is now a multicultural hotpot and we have a film festival for a whole bunch of nationalities these days. So, it’s always a pleasure to view the fresh program of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival in Perth, now in its 19th year. And it was a great pleasure to have been able to take my Mum to the cinema this time, to the opening night and first film screening of the festival.
Little did I realise the film we’d be seeing, Loro (‘Them’), would turn out to be one of the naughtiest European-made films I’d ever witnessed on the silver screen – and that includes a whole lot of Antonioni, Fellini, and Almodóvar.
Loro follows the political and social life of Italian ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a man probably better known to the rest of the world as a womaniser and a lover of ‘bunga bunga’ parties than a well-respected figurehead of state. Berlusconi is also a media mogul – owning the majority of Italian television networks – and a one-time owner of the Italian soccer club A.C. Milan, hence his biases have always been up for scrutiny.
Rather than paint a picture of a man whose decadent life could quite possibly have been partly responsible for Italy’s current economic woes (and that’s just the people’s money he spent on himself), Loro depicts a figure all at once pathetically patriotic and grotesquely charming. In fact, you can’t help but love the guy for his passion and panache, despite all his foibles, and actor Toni Servillo is so spot-on with his portrayal of Berlusconi, you’d think you were studying the real thing. Even when Servillo sits still 10 seconds at a time with a dumb smile plastered on his face, you mistake him for the actual cavaliere himself.
The film is directed by Academy Award-winning director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty, The Young Pope) who spares no Euro on making every scene appear as glorious as those paintings by the Italian masters. Even the wildly decadent scenes where topless girls and buffed guys are downing MDMA pills and dancing around a pool appear as though they were gilded with gold.
Despite the fact I blushed a few times (my Mum was in the audience with me, remember), I’ve got to say this was one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen on the big screen in some time. If it happens to make it onscreen outside of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival, I’d strongly recommend everyone of age goes to see it.
By the way, did you know that in 2018, Forbes magazine ranked Silvio Berlusconi as the 190th richest man in the world with a net worth of US$8.0 billion and that in 2009, Forbes ranked him 12th in the list of The World’s Most Powerful People. I reckon the dude is so cunning, he’d probably had a hand in this quasi-charming biopic about him, to the point where he might even be raking in production royalties. Seriously, his knack for maintaining la dolce vita and bella figura all at once is so cunning, it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a hand in this production. Antonino Tati
The Lavazza Italian Film Festival is on until October 24, with various films screening at Cinema Paradiso in Northbridge and Luna on SX in Fremantle. For the full program and ticket pricing visit www.italianfilmfestival.com.au or http://www.lunapalace.com.au/.
View the festival trailer here: