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A mosaic of several intertwined stories questioning the meaning of life, love and hope, set during the last six days in the life of Eluana Englaro, a young woman who spent 17 years in a vegetative state.
Two siblings and an illegitimate love. A father who's a doctor and several accusations. A family in which no one ever drew a line between what's moral and what's legal. Not even when it comes to abortion.
The story of Ida Dalser, who fell in love with the future Italian Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, supported him while he was unemployed in the early 1910s, and married him, presumably around 1914. She bore Mussolini a son, Benito Albino, before the outbreak of World War I. The two lost touch during the war years and, upon discovering him again in a hospital during the war, she also discovered Rachele Guidi, who had married Mussolini in 1915, and a daughter born in 1910 when Guidi and Mussolini were living together. Historically, following his political ascendancy, Mussolini suppressed the information about his first marriage and he (through the Fascist party) persecuted both his first wife and oldest son and committed them forcibly to asylums.
Marco Bellocchio's Dark View of Mussolini's Private Life
Marco Bellocchio directed and wrote (with Daniela Ceselli) this very dark version of the private life of Benito Mussolini, a portion of his life that centered on his mistress and the mother of his son, one Ida Dalser. Though the film never really reveals whether Ida Dasler and Mussolini were married (Mussolini already had a wife and child when he me the devastatingly beautiful and erotic Ida) but that simply doesn't seem to matter while watching this artistic triumph of a film. What the director does manage to portray is the life and times of Italy before, during, and after WW I, a time during which Mussolini began his influence as a socialist and ultimately founded Italian Fascism, becoming the Fascist dictator of Italy. The many permutations of the concepts of monarchism and socialism and eventually Fascism are delineated by the film, if at times as shadowy in their explanation as is the director's love of dark in lighting the screen during almost all of the action. Bellocchio uses black and white film clips throughout his film giving it a somewhat documentary flair, but the performances by the actors make this film very much a visceral drama and not a dry rehash of history.
Filippo Timi gives a gripping performance as both Mussolini the ardent and handsome lover and politician whose life is always controlled by the term 'Vincere' ('Win'). Aptly, when the bulky monster Mussolini rises out of the socialism into fascism and the war the part of Mussolini is 'played' by the film clips of the real person. But as the film draws toward the end of his life, Timi once again enters the film in the role of his son Benito Albino Mussolini, a lad stricken with insanity and confined to a sanitarium. As Mussolini's mistress (aka 'wife' by her accounts) Ida Dalser, Giovanna Mezzogiorno offers one of the strongest cinematic portrayals of an important woman of history. She is simply riveting - erotic when the romance begins, faithful even when she discovers Mussolini has a wife, and uncontrollably fierce as she is confined by the government (with Mussolini's approval) to an insane asylum. This is one of those performances that will live in memory long after this film is seen and hopefully will garner awards when the Oscar season comes round.
In all this is a beautifully wrought, intelligent, beautifully acted, occasionally confusing melodrama that sheds light on the man Mussolini, his rise to power, and the women who came under his influence. Recommended.
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