Giulio Andreotti may have been elected Italy’s prime minister seven times over and he may have fraternized with the world’s most notorious Mafia, but there is one seemingly innocuous item that the tough political figure can’t handle: his own biopic, Il Divo.
“(He) was upset about the film and it’s unusual because he’s usually quiet,” admitted writer/director Paolo Sorrentino during last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Referring to the well-documented report that 90-year-old Andreotti walked out of a screening of Il Divo, Sorrentino concedes he wasn’t shocked. “The power of the cinema is to move the emotions of the people.”
In theatres next Friday, Il Divo is a stylish-but-scathing indictment on Andreotti and specifically his ties to the Mafia. But as critical as the film is, it can’t ignore the far-reaching effects of Andreotti’s presence in Italy either.
“I think (he’s had) too much (influence),” said Sorrentino, pointing out that even in spite of the disbanding of Andreotti’s Christian Democratic party, “now things are different but not so different.”
Il Divo isn’t all pensive either. By casting Toni Servillo (Gomorrah) as the fascinating politician, Sorrentino captures the humorous eccentricities of the character — a perpetual hunched-back slouch and deadpan face. The compelling performance is particularly highlighted by a recurring comical scene in which Andreotti comes face-to-face with a house cat.
“I like always in films when man meets animal. It’s always a symbolic moment,” said Sorrentino, adding that a cat actually lived in the offices of the head of state.
“I thought it was interesting that Andreotti would meet this cat and (imagined it) as a sort of duel like in a cowboy movie. It’s like a Sergio Leone film.”