The Guardian

Starring Nanni Moretti, Elio De Capitani and Michele Placido. Directed by Nanni Moretti.
Running Time: 112 minutes
Rated: Rated M.
For several years, Nanni Moretti (La Stanza del Figlio, Caro Diario) has been on public record as taking a stand against Silvio Berlusconi. He had been preparing a documentary on him but moved to this narrative which combines making a film about Berlusconi with a final critique of the man, his policies and his destructive influence on Italy and Italian politics.

In an interview, Moretti refers to the extent of the damage Berlusconi has wrought: ethical, constitutional, psychological, moral, cultural and economic.

History has caught up with the film. Of course, it is not strange, but seems so, when Berlusconi in defeat in the recent elections put on tantrums like those we see in this film.

It all starts out as a story about a low-budget director who is on the rocks and gets the opportunity to make a film which turns out to be this political expose. The first half of the film has a great deal of satire on Italian cinema - including a performance by veteran director Giuliano Montaldo - as well as references which Italians and cinema buffs will pick up.

The domestic side of the story is very well handled even though it is also about divorce. Silvio Orlando is completely persuasive as the director but even more persuasive(!) as a caring and loving father. He has some wonderful scenes with his screen children. Margarita Buy is his wife (who used to be his heroine in his series of pseudo Kill Bill movies, Moccasin Assassin, Cop in High Heels and Maciste Against Freud!).

The ups and downs of making the film are both humorous and exasperating. Michele Placido does a wonderful spoof of a vain film star who agrees to play Berlusconi and then pulls out for specious reasons.

It all gets rather serious when the film finally gets made with Moretti himself coming in to play the politician on trial - building up to a damning indictment. For Italians an emotional response. Outsiders can observe with interest - and with reflections on how European politicians from other nations sided with or against Berlusconi.

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and an associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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