Starring: Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scarmacio
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Running Time: 145 mins
Loro is an Italian film about the last years of the rule of Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister of Italy, and the world of excess and decadence that he inhabited as he found himself at the top of a immense fountain of power and influence.
Director Paolo Sorrentino has been a well-known fixture on the international stage for a long time now, with original hits like The Consequences Of Love being followed up with successes like The Great Beauty and Youth. His films, however, have always been far more on the artistic side of things, so it’s fascinating to see how he approaches Loro, a movie with a whole lot more riotous energy and brash humour than what we’ve come to expect from Sorrentino.
Fortunately, not only does Sorrentino make a hugely entertaining and darkly hilarious film out of Loro, but also impresses with his trademark style and artistic flair, bringing together a story that mirrors the decadence and excess of The Wolf Of Wall Street with a stylish elegance that makes the film really sing throughout. As a result, Loro is both a huge amount of fun, and still an enthralling and gorgeous watch, all the while bringing you in close to the bizarre political career of Silvio Berlusconi.
First off, one of the things that I really liked about this film is that it’s a genuinely accessible watch no matter what perspective you’re coming from. If you’re a fan of Sorrentino’s work, but know nothing of Italian politics, you still won’t be lost here, but rather caught up in the whirlwind of excess on display. On the flipside, if you’re a fan of history and politics, but are unaware of Sorrentino’s occasionally difficult-to-grasp style, you’ll be pleased to know that this film isn’t quite as ‘arty’ as his previous works, and the story of Berlusconi’s career isn’t lost at any point.
What that means is that Loro works brilliantly both as a historical/’biographical’ drama as well as a striking piece of cinema. For every moment of artistic flair, there’s a new riveting twist in Berlusconi’s ever-more controversial affairs, giving the film a fantastic balance that I felt allowed me to entirely engross myself in all of its best parts, and enjoy two and a half genuinely enthralling hours.
When it comes to the story, there’s no doubting that you’ll be left a little shocked – no matter what your knowledge or understanding of Berlusconi as a politician or a man is. Whether it’s his controversial dealings that bleed into the political world, or simply his disturbing ‘bunga bunga parties’ – which are without a doubt this film’s most striking and equally horrifying moments – Loro gives a fascinating account of his last years in office throughout.
And what’s more is that its portrayal of Berlusconi, while obviously a rather negative one, never comes across as some sort of vicious attack. Dealing with such recent politics on the big screen is always going to invoke more extreme emotions, yet Sorrentino does a great job here to give as fair a portrayal of Berlusconi as possible.
Although he plays up the politician’s negative, controversial characteristics for entertainment value, there are moments where his talents and good sides are put on display, allowing for a more grounded character perspective that really helps to make the film both more enjoyable and more historically engaging.
And that’s where the lead performance from Toni Servillo comes in. Again, much like Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf Of Wall Street, Servillo gives an ingenious and totally irresistible performance as Silvio Berlusconi. In that, he plays up the man’s more lurid, often creepily inhuman characteristics to great effect, yet his performance is delivered with such effortless charisma and confidence that you can’t help but be genuinely endeared by Berlusconi too.
As a result of that, you come to understand just how such a controversial man could have made it to the highest office in Italy, and held such great influence for so many years despite an endless slew of attacks and controversies. His decadent, perverse behaviour is genuinely disturbing throughout here, and Sorrentino and Servillo show that on a consistent basis, but there’s no escaping his sheer charisma, which is arguably the most disconcerting thing of all.
All in all, Loro really impresses when it comes to delivering both an engrossing historical drama, hilarious dark humour and stylish filmmaking. If I were to have only one complaint, it would be that the movie doesn’t really link up all three of its acts in particularly natural fashion, with the events of the first act in particular left hanging a little bit as we become more and more engrossed in Berlusconi’s life.
Of course, the international cut of this movie takes 55 minutes out of the Italian original, so it’s likely that that would have an impact on the flow and structure of the film. Having said that, I enjoyed this so much first time round that I would gladly watch another hour, because there is certainly more to unpack than is shown in just these two and a half hours.
Overall, then, I loved Loro. With good drama, comedy, historical value and cinematic prowess, it’s a riveting and hugely entertaining film throughout that impresses through every minute of its rather long runtime, to such an extent that it really left me wanting more, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.3.