How do you best portray the workings of power, the trappings of quiet control, the ministrations of a recessive Machiavelli who holds reins of power for decades? With absurdity and visual panache that mingles Shakespearean themes about half-a-century of a country with a circus-worthy impatience. “Il Divo” (Il divo: La straordinaria vita di Giulio Andreotti, 2008) is Paolo Sorrentino’s bio-fantasia of Giulio Andreotti, a seven-time former prime minister of Italy in politics for over fifty years, prosecuted but acquitted for ties to the Mafia after the Red Brigade’s 1978 kidnapping and subsequent killing of a leading opponent, Aldo Moro. Years of murders followed. As an opening title says, he was “tried, convicted and acquitted of conspiracy, corruption and murder.” The mix is like “Z” and “The Conformist” and “All the President’s Men” to an inventive score that liberally plays with sound and shoves pop songs up against classical bits. The Scorsese-like verve and nerve of the velocity of Sorrentino’s visual style is dazzling, ranging from stylized framings, a restless camera and graceful metaphorical image-making. It’s a fury enfolding a bland man. The man behind the curtain. Sorrentino’s surrealism makes an intriguing parallel with the equally disgusted but elegant “Gomorrah.” Italian cinema lives. With Toni Servillo, Anna Bonaiuto, Piera Degli Esposti, Paolo Graziosi, Giulio Bosetti, Flavio Bucci, Carlo Buccirosso, Giorgio Colangeli, Alberto Cracco, Lorenzo Gioielli. 113m. Anamorphic 2.40 widescreen. (Ray Pride)
“Il Divo” opens Friday at the Music Box.