Biography / Drama / Romance

IMDb Rating 6.9 10 5,195


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November 27, 2020


Jackie Coogan as The Kid in 'The Kid'
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1.12 GB
Italian 2.0
23.976 fps
128 min
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2.3 GB
Italian 2.0
23.976 fps
128 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 8 / 10 / 10

Mussolini's fascism as seen by a wronged woman

Six years after his intimate reimagining of the Aldo Moro kidnapping that rocked Italy in the Seventies in 'Buongiorno, notte,' Bellocchio has made another haunting and even more sweeping and iconic historical film. 'Vincere' is about Benito Mussolini's secret first wife and son, who were hidden away and both died in insane asylums. 'Vincere' depicts a strange, distorted period in Italian history, and skillfully melds stock footage with recreations, black and white with color (rich in reds, alternating with ashen grays), public tumult with private torment. Visually lush and full of chiaroscuro, 'Vincere is also a showcase for the talents of Giovanna Mezzogiorno as Ida Dalzer, the woman who met Benito Mussolini when he was the editor of Avanti, an ardent Socialist with strong populist, anti-monarchical, anti-clerical views, who dramatically dares God, if He exists, to strike him down. Opening sequences alternate between 1907 when Ida first meets Mussolini (Filippo Timi) in Trent, and 1914 in Milan. She is a respectable middle-class woman with a beauty salon. On the eve of WWI, he shifts from pacifist liberal to pro-war rightist. Deathly afraid of ending in mediocrity, he is ravenous for power. Ida intensely supports him whatever his direction, and sells all her possessions, including jewels, furniture, and her business, to support his newspaper. This leads to the founding of the paper "Il Popolo d'Italia," which becomes a fascist rallying-point. The film makes clear that she is madly in love but never mad. It also makes clear that though he declares his love of her and fathers a son named Benito, born just before he goes off to the front, whom he acknowledges, and they evidently marry, he keeps a certain distance. In WWI Mussolini is wounded in the army and is pleased to be congratulated by the king. When Ida finds him he is being tended in hospital by a new lover, a woman named Rachele (Michela Cescon). This is the last time Ida sees him in person. As Mussolini rises to power and becomes the dictator known as "Il Duce," linking himself with the ancient Roman emperors and dreaming of world domination, Ida is more and more kept away from him, and appears as a figure on the outskirts of power, at the center only of sporadic and operatic encounters during which she pleads for recognition and attention, only to be swept aside. She has a marriage certificate but it becomes lost. All her papers are taken. Mussolini remains with Rachele, is married to her, and fathers children by her. He conceals that he was married to Ida. Ida, who calls herself Ida Mussolini and her son Benito or Benitino Albino Mussolini, is a woman obsessed, whom others urge to move on, but will not give up her pursuit of her idol and the man she believes to be the love of her life. For a while she is put under a kind of house arrest with her sister, then confined in one insane asylum and then another, while her son is taken away and sent to boarding school. She writes letters of protest to everyone, including the king and the pope; this of course only makes her seem crazy, but in a hearing it's evident that she is tragically obsessed, but lucid, and in fact she is never declared insane. A psychiatrist (Corrado Invernizzi) vows to help her, but she is taken elsewhere before he can do so. The film is rife with operatic passages featuring bright lights, dark shadows, violent storms and heavy rainfall, and yet retains its own kind of lucidity; it's clear that the country and not Ida is mad, and Il Duce is the head madman. The most haunting scene shows an actual speech by Mussolini at the height of his power in which the gestures and facial contortions are not only ugly and strange but unmistakably those of a dangerous madman. Cut to the now grown son of Ida, doing an imitation of Mussolini's speechifying and himself appearing genuinely deranged. Records show both mother and son received treatments that were akin to torture, and Ida was incarcerated for eleven years. The son died at the age of 26; Ida Dalser died at 57, 30 years after she first met Mussolini Italy's eventual fascist dictator. Since the film's protagonist is on the periphery, it makes sense that eventually we know Mussolini only through the newsreels she occasionally sees, which are brilliantly integrated into the film; it's hard to convey how striking and integral these images are. There are also haunting still portraits of Ida, showing her at progressive stages of suffering. The film's sense of pictorialism is augmented by a sense of the visual language of the period, heightened by a scene in which Mussolini is introduced to the Italian Futurists and their paintings, and excellent use is made of Futurist and Fascist graphic design and fonts. The sound track is powerful but muted. The film in fact is most satisfying visually, and despite Giovanna Mezzogiorno's dedication to her performance as the independent yet long-suffering woman, there is a lack of three-dimensionality in the characterizations: the figures are monumental but not quite human. The focus becomes a bit distant even on Ida as her torments increase, and there is nothing about the private life of Il Duce. Finally there is not the intimacy Bellocchio achieved in 'Good Morning, Night,' except in the first intimate scenes between the young (still hairy) Benito and Ida. Nonetheless, the effect of the whole film is both sick-making and scary. Though Bellocchio's style here is operatic, it's a swift-moving, elegant, contemporary kind of opera, and it works. An IFC film, 'Vincere' was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes and was also shown at Telluride, and Toronto. I saw it at a preview screening of the New York Film Festival.

Reviewed by MetalAngel 9 / 10 / 10

Extremely good. Historical dramas don't get any better.

I just love allegories. I love the way so much imagination is poured into the re-telling of a story via new material. We all know our history, so we know about Benito Mussolini, Il Duce, and his reign of Fascism over Italy. But we don't know about the adulterous relationship he had with a certain Ida Dalser, who gave birth to his child and who Mussolini, in his unforgivable cold-bloodedness, calmly strived to strip apart. That's what Marco Bellocchio's new film, "Vincere", is all about: it's a historical drama about the woman Mussolini tried so hard to ruin after economically and sexually using her...and it's also a sublime allegory of how he used all of Italy. Critics worldwide have seen the genius behind portraying Mussolini's reign of terror as a headstrong but powerless woman. Ida Dalser (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) instantly falls under the spell of a young, handsome Mussolini (Filippo Timi). Italy is only beginning to experience the first waves of Socialism, and among those first to rebel against the government is this young man who has a certain power with words; in a scene where he runs away from the police for being involved in a riot, he shields himself behind the curious Ida who stepped out for a look, and passionately kisses her. I mean, Benito is a good kisser, or so he seems to be, because Ida melts in utter passion in his arms while he kisses her and he...well, he's a really good actor too, for he can focus his strength on this steamy kiss at the same time that his full concentration and awareness are scrutinizing the area to see if the police are gone. Sure enough, once they're gone he pushes Ida away and runs without so much as a half-hearted smile...but the kiss was enough for Ida to fall mercilessly in love with him. In a matter of days, she's stalking him, getting into his fights and showing him glimpses of her crotch which get our all-too human Benito hot for her. The first twenty-something minutes of the film our two main characters spend passionately and intensely going at it. Well, Ida does the passionate part and Mussolini, as I've said before, is a really good actor; while Ida spends her every second in a sexual Nirvana, he is all steam but his stare is distant, serious, no doubt thinking about anything else but the woman coming in his arms. Ida's obsession with the dude takes her as far as selling almost all of her things and giving him all the money so he can establish his own Socialist newspaper. Notice the incredibly sarcastic scene where Ida finally asks Benito to tell her 'I love you.' Mussolini, who at this point of the film hasn't gotten over his hate for Germans, plainly answers 'Ich liebe dich.' But this is an allegory, so here's where the plot thickens. Mussolini just happens to be married, Ida finds out, but he can't move himself to even let her go properly because he's becoming really powerful so he doesn't need her anymore. Ida gives birth to his child, but he couldn't care less. Ida's obsession is so deep, though, that she really starts pestering Benito every living moment she has...and by the time Benito is a 9-year old boy, Ida spills the cup and our villainous dictator sends her to an insane asylum and gives the custody of her son to one of his right-hand men. From here on, it's chaos...both in Italy and on our tragic heroine's life. Just as a side note, the film claims to be based on true events; obviously, the rise of Fascism in Italy IS a true event, but I can't vouch for the verisimilitude of Mussolini's secret lover. I'm ready to believe it, though, because he was such a horrid man that he must've done to thousands of women the very same thing he did to Ida. And not only women: I mean, didn't he screw up millions of people's lives by using them? The film brings the suffering of an entire war-torn country into a very intelligent perspective by allegorizing it into the character of Ida Dalser, and that's more than can be said by any recent historical drama. Sounds good, doesn't it? The acting is pitch-perfect, especially Mezzogiorno who redeems herself for her atrocious main performance in Mike Newell's "Love in the Time of Cholera" and manages to give us a heart-breaking, poignant, sublime and VERY powerful performance (I wonder why she didn't get an Oscar nod? Academy voters must've definitely been high). We see a woman who has no chance of survival, who'll never see her son again, whose life has been ruined by Italy's most powerful man, but her strength and courage stand true to the very last. The screenplay is VERY good, actually; Carlo Crivelli's score is one of the best scores I've heard in a long time (which sounds like a perfect cross between Philip Glass and Dario Marianelli) and Marco Dentici's cinematography couldn't possibly be better. Also, the film never lags, and it touches on so many levels of human suffering and cruelty, that you can't help but me moved to deeper thought. What more can you ask of a film? See it. Italy has outdone itself this year with such an excellent film. No one in their right minds could possibly be disappointed. Rating: 4 stars out of 4!!

Reviewed by gradyharp 9 / 10 / 10

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. Grady Harp

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