Movie Review

Loro (2018) by Paolo Sorrentino

Original Name: Loro

Director:  Paolo Sorrentino

Runtime: 145 minutes

Language: Italian

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Paolo Sorrentino’s characters are mostly empty. They make their way to the highest social status, they’re rich, filthy rich. They’re acclaimed but they always find themselves alone amidst their own fortune. In his latest output, Loro (which has two versions: one is a double-film part and the other one (which I watched) is international version that combine (and cut about an hour) the two films), this theme is leveled up to the extreme, with longer, more crunchy, and target more squarely to real figure this time. Despite it claimed that “any comparison to real life events are purely coincidental”, Loro is a story about former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (played excellently by Toni Servillo). Or half of it anyways. Since the large chunk of first segment is about Sergio Morra (Riccardo Scamarcio), who has a prostitution ring and tries to get close to Silvio. What unfolds next is a two hour and a half runtime with loosely connected narrative threads between the two stories, endless extravagant party nights, countless topless girls who dancing and snorting coke, and an extended phone call about selling a property. Those qualities are a stark reminder of why Paolo Sorrentino’s brand never resonate with me on a personal level.

It’s the same issues that pop up in his previous films, and more apparent this time around. On one hand, he criticizes his main characters by pointing out how pretentious, how greedy, how egotistical and ultimately, how empty they are, at times he embraces and amplifies those factors to its extreme. The result is that, Loro has some moments of emotional truth, but ultimately like its protagonists Loro feels pretty empty under those beautiful shots. The worst offender is the amount of nude girls that function as a men’s playthings. Right in the beginning, we have Sergio blackmails one of the higher up by offering him a pussy. It sounds vulgar but it’s exactly the context in that scene and the portrayal of these faceless girls just gets worse with time. Arguably, they’re few female characters who break the trend. We have Silvio’s wife (Veronica Lario), we have his mistress Kira (Kasia Smutniak) and we have Stella (Alice Pagani), but make no mistake, they are all products of this male-dominant world. Apart from Stella, ALL the girls (and I mean like 30 plus of them) get naked at one time or the other. You might as well view them as the film’s decoration.

Loro, on the other hand, raises itself up with its pretty production and a strong and committed performance of Servillo. Silvio Berlusconi as the centre of attention is always a fascinating figure to watch. Just by spending time with him, we pretty much know about the person he is, his larger-than-life personality, his constant smile that looks like a mask, and his genius as a businessman. There are many dull moments, but his presence alone always hold our attention. There are some scenes, especially those with his wife and the one sequence with Stella that give some depth to this infamous icon. The raise and eventually fall of his years can be a bit to abrupted (especially considered how Loro spends too much time on other less significant segments), but it still does its job on commenting on how the politics in Italy function, make the more powerful when we know that this story is based on real events.

Ultimately, as a biopic Loro does portrays the real life character in a vivid way, boasted by a strong lead performance but as a whole, Loro falters. Its commentary on the luxurious lives of the figures is self-indulgent. For the two main narrative threads, one is much more significant than the other, which makes me question why bother with the first segment at all. Loro also paints its female character in a heavily-male-eccentric filter, which might be the film’s point but it leaves a sour taste nonetheless. Loro is, at the end of the day, is just like the protagonist it portrays – an empty film in a gorgeous shell.

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