“Il Divo,” Paolo Sorrentino’s 2008 Cannes Jury Prize-winning study of Italy’s “Life Senator” Giulio Andreotti (who shares his titular nickname with Julius Caesar) is an art-house crowd popcorn flick. Dense with Byzantine political information—blink and you’ll miss a crucial subtitle—the film should have been a miniseries, but nevertheless is steeped in the country’s populist operatic tradition, and moves with the speed (not to mention slo-mo action sequences) of a Luc Besson film. And like that high-flying Frenchman’s movies, Il Divo has the feeling of being completely choreographed. It’s a ballet on steroids, downright militaristic in its precision. Between the lush production design and sweeping camerawork, the overwhelming opera score alternating with roaring rock and roll (and even a silly tune from 80s pop-tart Trio), you forget you’re watching the story of a leader whose ruthless administration makes Bush & Co. look like Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. (Though all those Bush conspiracy theories do find their counterpart in Italy’s “strategy of tension,” which holds that the government causes chaos to create fear and maintain power—in this case for decades. In lieu of Skull and Bones there’s the secret society of the P2 lodge, of which Silvio Berlusconi, naturally, was a member.)
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