“LORO”: Bunga bunga

Toni Servillo as Silvio Berlusconi

“LORO” My rating: B (Opens Oct. 11 at the Screenland Armour)  151 minutes | No MPAA rating

Published October 10, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene

Italian politico Silvio Berlusconi, the subject of Paolo Sorrentino’s hallucinatory “Loro,” is described by one of his cronies as the world’s greatest salesman.

Indeed, early on we see Berlusconi (who, like Donald Trump, employed shameless lying to make the leap from amoral business tycoon to amoral national leader) convincing his grandson that although it appears that Grandpa has stepped in dog shit while strolling across the lawn of his Sardinian palace, in fact that is not the case. Grandpa would never step in dog shit.

Truth is, Berlusconi — played by the spectacularly slimy Toni Servillo — is damn near wading in dog shit, but he has an uncanny  ability to spin any situation to make himself look good. Later on he randomly picks a number from the phone book, calls it and posing as a realtor tries to sell a make-believe apartment to the woman who answers. He damn near convinces her, too.

“Loro”  concentrates on Berlusconi in the late 2000s, when he was out of office and scheming to get back in. It is less a standard biography than a sort of drug-drenched fantasia, a “La Dolce Vida” for the age of cocaine.

Sorrentino, who most recently has given us “Youth” and “The Great Beauty,”  alternates scenes of Berlusconi in exile with moments from the life of the pimpish Sergio (Riccardo Scamarcio), a young Sardinian mover and shaker who surrounds himself with legions of beautiful young women and hopes to use them to worm his way into Berlusconi’s corridors of power. (After all, it is well known that Berlusconi is fond of throwing “bunga bunga” parties filled with naked lovelies.)

There’s no real plot here, just scenes from Berlusconi’s life in exile. Much of “Loro” plays like an X-rated music video, with sinuous bodies writing to house music beat. It’s absolutely hypnotic.

In fact, “Loro” is one of the most devastatingly beautiful films of recent years.  That it accomplishes this while on focusing on a smarmy pol whose face is frozen in a ghastly grin only makes the whole thing more remarkable.

Riccardo Scamarcio

The 2-hour-31-minute version of the film being shown in the U.S. is an full hour shorter than the original Italian. No doubt Italian audiences already familiar with Berlusconi’s antics and will respond enthusiastically to the film’s satire.

For those of us who know relatively little about Italian politics,”Loro” is a mixed bag.  It starts out strong, seducing us with sex and beauty and lovely landscapes.  But the deeper we get into its subject, the more soulless it becomes. By the end you’re in the mood for a nice hot shower.

| Robert W. Butler

Read the original review and more reviews at Butler’s Cinema Scene


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Robert W. Butler for 41 years reviewed films for the Kansas City Star. In May 2011 he was downsized.

He couldn’t take the hint.

OKAY, so here’s the deal. I write mostly about movies. One good thing about no longer writing for the paper is that I’m free to ignore the big dumb Hollywood turkeys that don’t interest me. So don’t expect every blessed release to be written about here. Many films aren’t worth the effort. Besides, at my age it’s not the $8. It’s the two hours.

UPDATE: OCTOBER, 2014: Well, here’s an interesting twist. The Star wants me back as a freelance film reviewer!!! Apparently enough time has passed that they cannot be accused of firing me so that they can rehire me at a fraction of my original pay (I gather the federal government frowns upon that practice.) So from now on I will probably be reviewing a movie a week for the newspaper.