No, it’s not a new group of Italian tenors- or the penultimate flavor of Italian gelato. It’s a 2008 film by Italian writer/director Paolo Sorrentino.
Judging from the reviews, the general consensus seems to be that the scope and ambition of Il Divo can only be fully appreciated if one is familiar with the many twists and turns of former Italian Premier Guilio Andreotti’s 50 year political career and the alleged skulduggery associated with his lengthy stay in power. It is provocative stuff, especially considering Andreotti was still alive at the time of the film’s release. (He died at the age of 94 in 2013 .) He was reportedly angry when he was first shown the film (at a private screening) but later told his biographer (Massimo Franco): “I’m happy for the producer. And I’d be even happier if I had a share of the takings.”
The great Italian actor Toni Servillo as the enigmatic politician, gives a master class in restraint and control.
However, despite rave reviews from All the Right Critics, I still prefer Signor Sorrentino’s 2014 entry The Great Beauty (Oscar winner Best Foreign Language Film) with its more accessible narrative, a textured performance from Signor Servillo in the lead role and a visually sumptuous tour of Rome – past and present.
But then I’m prejudiced. As a youngster I was a fool for ancient Roman history. (Okay, I was a weird kid). As a teen I took a course on the history of ancient Greece (it was the nearest I could get to Ancient Roman Studies, not offered in my university. Big mistake. Although I scored well on an essay on The Battle of Marathon I almost flunked the final exam) As an alleged adult I saw some of the places I had only read about (or written about.)
In fact, it was the advice of friends whose opinions I respect who urged me to watch this film. “If you liked The Great Beauty,” they said, “You’ll love Il Divo.”
Well, “love” is a strong word but I was sufficiently intrigued to watch Signor Sorremtino’s English language feature Youth which I spotted recently on Netflix. I enjoyed it (more on this in a future post) and I didn’t have to read any newspapers to follow the plot. (Which is just as well. I don’t read Italian, anyway.)