During a tumultuous period in the career of Silvio Berlusconi, as his marriage to second wife Veronica Lario fractures, LORO speculates on what may or may not have taken place behind closed...
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During a tumultuous period in the career of Silvio Berlusconi, as his marriage to second wife Veronica Lario fractures, LORO speculates on what may or may not have taken place behind closed doors, depicting a wide variety of characters from multiple levels of society and their attempts to either ingratiate or distance themselves from him.
"Why can't I run the country like I run my business?!" asks the head of government. The current U.S President? No. It's a line attributed to Italy's Silvio Berlusconi (as played by the brilliant Toni Servillo). The association between the two leaders is intentionally unmistakable in Paolo Sorrentino's sprawling LORO. A bit of knowledge of Italian politics over the past couple of decades, and, Berlusconi in particular, is helpful here. Doubly so, because LORO was released overseas in two parts (the USA cut, 151 minutes, is about 50 minutes shorter than LORO I & II combined). It takes until almost the half-way point before Berlusconi is even mentioned directly (he's referred to as "lui, lui" (him, him) or, on occasion as "Silvio"). The movie is set mainly between the second and third terms of Berlusconi's rule circa 2006-2008. The first half of the movie revolves mainly around Sergio (Riccardo Scamarcio; from JOHN WICK 2) a wannabe political insider who uses guile and the lure of women to get into Berlusconi's orbit. The central bait are modern Bacchanalian extravaganzas often referred to as 'Bunga Bunga Parties' where dozens of nubile women are recruited with the lure of drugs, sex and access to power. Even though Berlusconi himself doesn't appear, Servillo enters playing another character, Ennio, a confidant of the now out of power Prime Minister. Once Berlusconi himself enters, LORO becomes much stronger and more effective. Servillo is a superb actor and he imbues the movie with a strength and and a sense of purpose that brings focus to some of Sorrentino's flamboyant filmmaking. The Director's screenplay (co-written with Umberto Contarello) also becomes more cogent with Berlusconi's Machiavellian maneuvers getting constantly called out by his detractors, including his own wife Veronica (Elena Sofia Ricci; very good). LORO's current cut doesn't help an already episodic structure. As always, Sorrentino gets excellent mileage out of his cinematographer (Luca Bigazzi), and his music choices are compelling. The sheer amount of beautiful bodies on display here is eye-popping (even if it creates its own kind of hypocrisy -- the movie wants to critique the superficial, while often wallowing in it). There's a criminally under-seen Documentary, 2009's VIDEOCRACY where Director Erik Gandini traces how Berlusconi's media empire worked on dumbing down the Italian public with his flashy empty - and very sexed up - TV programming. LORO is strongest when it depicts that corruption of power over the public (in Italian, the title translates alternately as "them" and "gold"). Berlusconi metes out a few morsels to "them" while he collects the "gold". The best scene in the film outside those with Berlusconi comes at the very beginning with a sheep watching one of the leader's vacuous TV programs. Toni Servillo's brilliant performance as Berlusconi carries Sorrentino's uneven epic
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