Toni Servillo doubles up in Viva la libertà
by Vittoria Scarpa
11/02/2013 - After Giulio Andreotti in Il divo [trailer, film focus] by Sorrentino and a People of Freedom party senator in Dormant Beauty [trailer, film focus, festival scope] by Bellocchio, Toni Servillo chooses to make a politician the centre of his story. In Viva la libertà [trailer] by Roberto Andò, the versatile Neapolitan actor plays two roles: one as Enrico Oliveri, a politician, head of the opposition party, going through a crisis, with a diminishing popularity rate ahead of elections, and Giovanni Ernani, his twin brother, a philosopher, who has just come out of a psychiatric clinic: bipolar and brilliant.
Striking a delicate balance between being light and grave, the film, based on a novel by the director himself (Il trono vuoto dello stesso) tells the story of escape. Just like the anxious pope in Moretti’s Habemus papam [trailer, film focus], Oliveri suddenly removes himself from his duties after being severely challenged at a rally, going to hide in France with an old friend (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). His scrupulous assistant (Valerio Mastandrea), not knowing how to justify the absence of his boss, decides to substitute him with his twin brother: a serious gamble considering his unreliability.
Astonishingly though, the visionary substitute will reveal himself to be a winning bet. The public goes back to being inflamed and polls reflect his new popularity. Oliveri/Ernani talks in a different, Utopian way (“the only possible alliance is with people’s conscience”) but maintains irony and keeps people guessing (“Italians, be honest, stop dyeing your hair”), winning himself a place in people’s hearts. There are a number of surreal leaps – like when our protagonist dances barefoot tango with the German Chancellor. It is impossible to imagine any other actor playing this role however, something the director confirmed. “I would never have done this film without Toni Servillo.”
The message of hope is clear: change is needed, restore politics to people’s souls, starting with culture. The film shows footage from the 1980s showing Federico Fellini protesting in front of parliament against advertisements interrupting films on television. His words are full of rage, but simple and precious, as the director was trying to bring back culture and politics to the same level. Something to reflect on as the Italian elections are round the corner on February 24, and just days after further public cuts to funding were announced for the culture sector.
(Translated from Italian)