Loro, or Them, from Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino is a fictionalised account of Silvio Berlusconi‘s life from 2006 and 2010, as his marriage to second wife Veronica Lario (Elena Sofia Ricci) falls apart and his notorious predilections for young women are indulged. Released in Italy in two parts, the work has been combined for its international release and, even with an hour of film cut out, it still weighs in at a hefty two-and-a-half hours.
The movie is stylish and visually sumptuous, with its stunning settings, its cascade of unfeasibly beautiful women, and its aesthetic owing much to Italy’s peerless Renaissance art. There are many arresting tableaux, such as the hapless and seedy Morras, draped morose and defeated across the merry-go-round in Berlusconi’s garden, followed by a woman positioned like a ship’s mast head, whistling eerily, over churning sea water. Loro revels in its oceans of writhing female flesh and extravagant venality and hedonism, sometimes becoming hallucinatory and surreal.
Toni Servillo plays Berlusconi with a kind of impervious geniality, there is an opaque charm to him. He remains a mythical figure for the first third of the movie, referred to only as “Lui” (him) until he appears, dressed as a belly dancer with grotesque make up to surprise his wife on her birthday.
Sorrentino’s script is mellifluous and poetic, with many pithy aphorisms, such as “a salesman is the loneliest man in the world as he only talks and never listens”, and the politician explaining to his grandson that “truth is the tone of your voice”. There is an operatic quality to the dialogue, somewhat histrionic, which suits the tone of the movie. There is one scene where Berlusconi practises his old sales pitch in a phone call to an ordinary woman, an operatic virtuosity of dream weaving as the camera pans out. The woman, initially suspicious, becomes hooked and it is then revealed that the apartment he so vividly described is on papers; it does not exist. This is an examination of a man who is both charming and duplicitous.
For all Loro’s artistry, its narrative thrust is not enough to sustain its long running time, with a plot that is meandering and unclear. It may not be for everyone but there is no denying its unique vision.
Loro is released in select cinemas and on demand on 19th April 2019.
Watch the trailer for Loro here: