Loro, the newest film from Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty), is a sprawling true-crime dramedy, but of course with Sorrentino’s stylish approach. Even though this may be Sorrentino’s weakest effort yet, a lesser Sorrentino movie is still far more interesting and well-made than a majority of films that come out in a given year.
The movie tells a fictionalized version of the story of Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian media mogul and politician. Released in two parts internationally, this is a combined version made to qualify for rewards and be more palatable for American audiences who are not as familiar with the subtleties of Italian politics. Although the international cuts are unavailable stateside, it would be interesting to see the extra hour of footage that was cut, as it ultimately feels like something is missing.
Like many other similar political dramedies like The Wolf of Wall Street, Loro is a cautionary tale about the corrupting effect that power and greed can have on an individual. The film would have benefitted from some more specificity regarding this matter, but the statements Sorrentino makes about upper-class society in general are still very interesting. Yet one can’t help but feel that his previous work has handled similar themes in a more effective way.
One of the movie’s more prominent issues is that the character development is slightly off-putting. Although Sorrentino does (as he always has) an excellent job of establishing these characters in a moral grey area, there is a weird protagonist switch midway through the film that does not work as it should. For the first half of the movie, the protagonist is a businessman who wants to enter Berlusconi’s circle of influence, and then the second half switches to Berlusconi as the protagonist. Unfortunately, the businessman’s story is written in a more compelling way.
That said, Toni Servillo’s performance as Berlusconi is excellent, and he has many moments in which he is truly able to shine. His performance certainly falls into the big impression style, but it works given the comedic edge that the film has. The other lead of the movie, Riccardo Scamarcio, is also very good and is an excellent driving factor in the first half.
Sorrentino’s highly stylized fashion is also very much present here. The cinematography by Luca Bigazzi (a frequent collaborator of his) is absolutely grand and is filled with plenty of beautiful shots, both in terms of composition and content. Sorrentino’s use of music, particularly the score by Lele Marchitelli, is also as great as usual.
However, it is important to note that Sorrentino’s camera lingers on the female body more so than usual in this film. On one hand, this does make sense due to the promiscuous lifestyle that the characters lead, but it is also somewhat distracting. There are simply too many shots of scantily clad or nude women dancing, and those could have been cut in favor of more story-driven footage.
The length of Loro may mean that it won’t be able to appeal beyond those who are already fans of Sorrentino’s style and work, but it is a compelling and beautifully-shot political comedy from one of the finest working filmmakers today. Until people in the States get to see the longer cut of this story, this is satisfying and worth watching.
Loro opens in theaters on September 20 and hits VOD on September 27.