Posted by Jsober on:
In the evening of Friday, Feb. 5th, I went to see the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s presentation of Vincere, an Italian movie directed by Marco Bellocchio. The movie theater was packed. I mean there were not a single open seat in the theater and boy was the audience in for an amazing treat.
This story is based on the relationship between the passion obsessed Ida Dalser and politically propelled Bonito Mussolini. In the film, Dalser, played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno, meets a young Mussolini, played by Fillipo Timi, in a series of revolution based events including the opening scene in which Mussolini, standing before a theater of workers, makes the empirical conclusion that God is dead. And the crazy just keeps coming. Early on in the film we find out that Ida, swooning for her revolutionary lover, has sold all her possessions to fund Mussolini’s news paper and that she is having his baby (who’s name is Bonito Mussolini). And then we meet Mussolini’s wife. As Mussolini gains attention from the public, Ida first gets shuffled off to a secluded home with her son and then gets institutionalized. The film follows Ida as her mental stability crumbles. It is fitting then that the title of the film is Vincere, translating loosely into ‘win’, because here we see Mussolini’s victory, not over the people, but over a single woman.
Beautiful would be an understatement when describing this film. Director, Marco Bellochio not only used great skill and subtlety when depicting this period piece but also colored the film very dark and earthy in a way that screams classic Italian cinema. Interspersed throughout the film, Bellochio throws in quick shots of Ida in clinical mental distress that appear each time Ida’s despair hits a new peak, until these shots match her everyday life. Each time this happens it throws a chill down your spine.
Bellochio also shows an amazing ability to cast doubt over Ida’s relationship with Mussolini from the very beginning. Timi does an amazing job of playing a subtly cold yet breathtakingly passionate Mussolini disguising his affair with Ida as a lustful devotion. The audience is as betrayed just as Ida is. Mezzogiorno thought, tops all performances with her depiction of Ida and her overwhelming and continuing conviction. All around the actors are top notch and I would not be surprised to be seeing Mezzogiorno and Timi in more movies soon.
On that note I find it funny that one of the most memorable scenes in the film has very little to do with ether of the main characters. As a show of the internal conflict Italy was facing at this point in time, Bellochio included a scene set in a movie theater that is full of audience watching political newsreels. Soon, half the room is yelling at the other and an all in fight brakes out, and yet the silent movie era piano player keeps playing the intense escalating music that makes the scene very powerful.
I definitely expect to see this film at the top of my list when the festival is complete and I hope you do to. If you don’t get a chance to see this on the big screen I think that it would easily translate to a tv as long as you can still read the subtitles. And yes, this is a good enough film that I expect to see it widely available on DVD.