Loro Part 2: Paolo Sorrentino Finishes Off Silvio Berlusconi
Loro 2 (Them 2) — the second part of Paolo Sorrentino’s twin films inspired by the Silvio Berlusconi phenomenon — focuses on the separation between the Italian politician and his wife, his ambition to be loved by the people and refine his skills as dream-maker.
The story begins with a conversation between billionaires, both played by Toni Servillo, Silvio Berlusconi and Ennio Doris — the chairman of Banca Mediolanum, who gained notoriety for reimbursing his clients for their losses in the Lehman Brothers collapse, costing Mediolanum approximately $220 million. This mirror effect, where Berlusconi listens to the advice from his alter-ego, plunges the viewer into a more reflective analysis on the life of the tycoon-turned-politician.
The majority of characters seen in Loro 1 are reprised in this narrative, that tends to have less of Sorrentino’s oneiric touch and more of his thoughts about Berlusconi, voiced out by the people who surround him. Veronica, his wife, is the one who embodies Sorrentino’s most severe criticism towards Berlusconi’s unkept political promises.
But the most amusing and iconic scene, where audiences can grasp Berlusconi’s inclination as salesman, is when he picks up the phone and randomly calls a woman to whom he tries to sell an imaginary apartment. He is testing himself for pure divertissement, to see if he can still work the old real estate magic. The depressed housewife is initially suspicious and this triggers in Silvio further enthusiasm: he enjoys the challenge and wants to win her trust. He understands the woman’s psychology, as he tells her “I know the script of life, the sorrows and desires of the people.”
Berlusconi knows that, “a salesman is a persuader” and shows true talent in enchanting Italians in voting for him again. Men aspire to be like him, and women are ready to offer themselves freely to his power and charisma. He sells dreams and, those who surround him enjoy the lightheartedness of life, as he croons Neapolitan songs in his holiday mansions, as opposed to his sulky intellectual wife Veronica who has a serious approach on everything.
“He” wanders around the house wearing a white bathrobe: Sorrentino depicts him almost as Caesar on the eve of the conspiracy. Berlusconi’s mythomania and megalomania become blatant as the story progresses. Not even the wiretap scandals with prostitutes seem to undermine his magnetism.
Sorrentino’s celebration of kitsch peaks to its splendor with a female ensemble dancing to the music “Meno male che Silvio c’è” (Thank goodness for Silvio), a real song that Silvio Berlusconi’s party decide to make for him before the 2008 election.
The political episodes in Loro 2 are mere tools to focus on Silvio Berlusconi as a man and chronicle his delusion of grandeur. The final scenes take place in L’Aquila, on the night when the earthquake destroyed the city. The harrowing 2009 seism in the region of Abruzzo killed over 300 people, caused damage to between 3,000 and 11,000 buildings, and left around 40,000 people homeless.
At this point Berlusconi is newly President and he marches through the debris with the firemen, promising humungous homes full of amenities. He even encounters an old lady who is weeping because she lost her dentures in the quake, and assures he will provide her with new ones. As make believe and reality blend, Sorrentino pays homage to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (that opened the film with a helicopter carrying a statue of Jesus Christ towards St. Peter’s Square in Rome). In Loro 2 the crucified Jesus is pulled out of the ruins of a church, under the mournful gaze of the Berlusconi admirers (“Them”) who have been left homeless and hopeless.
A review of Loro Part one is available here.