Marco Bellocchio’s thunderous melodrama illuminates the story of Benito Mussolini’s secret first wife Ida Dalser (Giovanna Mezzogiorno).
A Milan beauty-shop owner on the eve of WW1, she begins a passionate affair with the then-left-wing agitator (played by Filippo Timi), only to be swiftly disowned by him.
Writer/director Bellocchio boldly orchestrates a whirl of archival newsreel footage, silent-movie clips and fictional re-enactments.
What happens to Dalser becomes a metaphor for the nation’s fate; as for Il Duce, it’s hard to miss the parallels with the cult of personality surrounding current Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi.
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