Loro – Film Review by Frank L.
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Writers: Paolo Sorrentino (story), Paolo Sorrentino (screenplay)
Stars: Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scamarcio
Loro, in Italian, means ‘Them’. Sergio Morra (Riccardo Scamarcio) has a desire to be one of ‘Them’. They are the people who have all the money and all the beautiful girls. He needs to leave his impoverished part of Italy and get in on that scene. By unorthodox means he manages to become one of those on the perimeter of ‘Them’. He decides to rent a villa beside one owned by Silvio Berlusconi (Toni Servillo) in order to give a decadent party stuffed with gorgeous girls which will attract the attention of Berlusconi. That is Part I of the film and was known when first produced for television as Loro 1. Loro 2, its sequel followed Berlusconi divorcing his wife and plotting how he can return to power. This iteration for the cinema is as a result of joining the two television films which is not entirely successful as there is a very definite change of gear in the film. In addition it lasts two and a half hours.
In the second half, where Berlusconi is centre stage Sorrentino shows how he used his common touch to make himself a man of the people e.g. promising a woman an apartment after an earthquake. This is what gives him his populist appeal. It shows that he cares about all Italians. Meanwhile, he lives a life of outlandish displays of wealth and personal excess surrounded by legions of long-legged, scantily clad beautiful women. Berlusconi at his height was able to bestride these seeming contradictions.
Sorrentino manages to keep the whole story together with the most magnificent photography of beautifully dressed young men and women enjoying themselves in gorgeous locations. It is a visual delight and the sheer style of ‘la dolce vita’ is portrayed with all the flair and genius that you might expect from an Italian with Sorrentino’s vision. However, the visual cornucopia stands in contrast to the political grubbiness of Berlusconi. Despite the dying of his hair and other attempts to keep himself young a perceptive girl whom he seeks to bed has no allusions.
What Sorrentino was trying to convey in this sumptuous but fractured film is mysterious. It is probably best not to seek the answer. Maybe it is safer to approach the film as a sheer visual delight with Berlusconi and all his human contradictions at its centre.