Tuesday, March 16, 2010

VINCERE (Win) - Movie Review

On Sunday morning, March 14, 2010, my movie class held its final bonus screening prior to the beginning of the Spring semester, showing the Italian historical drama, Vincere.


After falling in love with a young Benito Mussolini, a woman is cast aside once he comes into power -- but when she insists on being recognized as his wife, her life is endangered.


In the years leading up to World War I, Ida Dalser met a young man named Benito Mussolini -- a devout socialist and newspaper editor.  Having more of a reputation as a troublemaker at the time, he questioned many of the ideologies behind socialism and eventually, was expelled from the party for his views.  A charismatic and persuasive speaker, Ida fell in love with him and eventually bore his son.  

After the war, Mussolini gains higher recognition and with this greater visibility, cannot afford to be associated with a woman in what might be perceived as an illicit affair.  When he comes into power, he renounces Ida and their son, recognizing only one woman as his legal wife.  Coldly being cast aside, she and the boy live in poverty.  Seeking revenge and admission of the truth, she sets out to try to announce to all of Italy that she and Mussolini are husband and wife and that their union has produced his first male heir.  The Italian leader counters this threat by banishing her to live with her sister and her husband, who are all closely watched by the government.  

While admirable in one sense, her persistence eventually becomes something of an intolerable nuisance to Mussolini, who decides to have her committed for being mentally insane; her son becomes a ward of the government and is eventually adopted by someone within the regime.  Unable to prove her relationship with Mussolini, she eventually dies a broken woman and her son, also institutionalized, passes away at an asylum at the age of only 26. 


Can fascism be fun?  Well, it certainly started out seeming that way for poor Ida, but quickly turned rather bitter over the years.  While some believed her tale -- and were even envious of her for once having enjoyed such a powerful man as her lover -- she could never get Mussolini's acknowledgment, and therein lies the tragedy of this story.

The main problem I had with this movie was in the heavily stylized way in which the director chose to tell the story.  In the beginning, flashbacks and flash-forwards are used with alarming, almost jarring regularity and it made parts of the story a little hard to follow.  Also, perhaps because it is Italian, it had strong operatic overtones to it, which I thought were a heavy-handed touch.  Add to that the fact that there were a number of events and people that went unexplained, and you're left scratching your head after some scenes.  

Unless you are a major history buff, I would not recommend this movie.  While I can imagine it being somewhat popular in Italy -- where its director is supposed to be acclaimed -- I can't see American audiences taking to this film, especially given the way in which it is depicted.  Perhaps in other, more objective hands, this tale would've been told better -- but who other than an Italian would care to tell it?

Vincere ( Vaincre ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Italy ]