WORLD WIDE PHOTO, Baltimore Sun
October 21, 2009
The great Italian director Marco Bellochio made this passion-streaked, often black-comic tribute to Ida Dalser, the woman whom Benito Mussolini (pictured), at the height of his political power, couldn't buy off or silence. Giovanna Mezzogiorno is emotionally harrowing as Dalser, the mother of the Fascist leader's oldest child -- a son, also called Benito -- and possibly Il Duce's first wife. It's about the moment in 20th century history when images overtake reality. Because of Filippo Timi's primordial power as Mussolini, and Bellochio's cunning use of archival footage and period graphics, we watch aghast as the volatile iconoclast of the early scenes turns himself into the Fascist cartoon superman of the newsreels. When Timi reappears as Mussolinis son -- well, you've never seen anything like it.