Sorrentino’s movies are well-recognizable because of their unique and unmistakable style. Therefore, we can try to predict how his new film about Berlusconi will be.
The wait is almost over. ‘Loro’, the new film co-written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, will open in theaters on April 24. Shot in two parts, the movie is about Silvio Berlusconi’s political and private life. The title is based on the double meaning of the word ‘loro’: ‘them’ in Italian but, with a word play, it becomes ‘l’oro’, namely ‘gold’. Both the title and the official trailer are not so explicative, increasing the curiosity for this long-awaited film about one of the most well-known and discussed personality of the country. Sorrentino spoke about the idea of making this movie during the last edition of the Cannes Film Festival, stressing that the life of Berlusconi is a metaphor to describe the Italians.
Although there are not many elements to predict how the film will be, we can say that Sorrentino’s movies are well-recognizable because of their unique and unmistakable style. Indeed, it is possible to individuate some recurring features and imagine that they will be somehow present also in his new work.
‘Loro’ is not the first biopic by the Oscar director. In 2008, he directed ‘Il Divo’, about the figure of the former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, leader of the Christian Democracy party. Despite his controversial personality, he is presented as a very able politician, capable of maintaining contact with a large part of the population (including mobsters), but bound to a lonely and, deep down, unsatisfactory life.
The lead of ‘The Consequences of Love’ is also a lonely, middle-aged man. He has lived for eight years in a hotel, avoiding contact with people and only occasionally phoning his family, that seems to despise him. An opposite, but at the same time similar condition, is that of Jep Gambardella, the main character of ‘The Great Beauty’. Surrounded by luxury, parties and a lot of people with nothing to say, he seems to find a window of happiness in the simplest things, feeding his constant pursuit of Beauty.
Youth and old age
Another recurring subject in Sorrentino’s movies is the marked contrast between old age and youth. The former is no longer presented as the age of wisdom: essentially, it looks like a sad period of human life, during which his characters are nostalgic and demoralized. Youth, on the contrary, is often linked to beauty, representing the age of possibilities.
However, it is not true that young characters are always happier than the older ones, as it can be seen in the TV series ‘The Young Pope’. Here, the protagonist is afflicted by several traumas and questions (the Pope calls into question even the existence of God) and seems to consider his high position as a way to redeem himself. Similarly, in ‘Youth – La Giovinezza’, where the contrast between young and old characters is strongly stressed, one of the younger characters commits suicide, while the oldest one, in the final part of the movie, overcomes his vital block. To conclude, for Sorrentino youth seems to be more a state of mind, a condition allowing to appreciate life and enjoy every single moment.
Sacred and profane
Continuing with his tendency to contrasting features, it can be noticed that Sorrentino has got a flair for everything concerning the sacred. Nuns and cardinals are a strong presence in ‘The Great Beauty’, representing religion as something familiar for human beings but, at the same time, beyond their ability to understand. For example, Jep Gambardella is attracted by nuns and observes them, but always from behind the railing, an element that contributes to mark a distance between him and them.
This curiosity for the lifestyle of nuns seems to disclose Jep’s attempt to find the most human side of religious people, to catch them revealing a typical human behaviour. This ‘humanization’ of the sacred is a visible feature also in ‘The Young Pope’, where both men of the cloth and nuns are presented primarily as individuals, with their fragilities, their contradictions and their sins.
Instead, Sorrentino shot many scenes that put at the center a glamorous life, excesses and earthly pleasures, especially in ‘The Great Beauty’, but also in his TV series, in total opposition to the theme of the sacred. Profane is somehow evoked in ‘This Must Be The Place’, since the main character is a former rock-star and keeps dressing and wearing make-up like when he was on the stage. However, once again, Sorrentino creates a strong contrast, as this extravagant look covers a very ‘normal’ lifestyle.
Finally, Sorrentino’s movies are characterized by an incredible sense of beauty, clearly visible in their masterful photography and in the long scenes without dialogues that let us catch something unique, as if we were in front of a Renaissance work of art. It comes to my mind a beautiful scene from ‘The Great Beauty’, in which Jep, at night, admires a giraffe surrounded by ancient ruins.
In this surreal context, with only few, warm lights, he is astonished by an unreal beauty. His wonder becomes our wonder, and it is not important whether the giraffe exists or not. The question is not ‘how can a giraffe stand in front of us in the center of Rome?’. The right and the only one possible is ‘can really this unreal and total beauty exist?’. Sorrentino’s magic is that he let us live and soak up this kind of beauty. And if you are living it, then yes, it does exist.