Loro 2 (2018) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): The Great Banality

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Italian film “Loro 2”, the second half of the latest work from Paolo Sorrentino, is not as tepid as the first half preceding it. While it still throws at us lots of debauchery and decadence as expected and that is not very pleasant to watch to say the least, it is a bit better mainly thanks to its solid lead performance, and I was relatively less bored during my viewing, though I am still not so eager to recommend it.

The movie starts at the point not long after the last scene of “Loro 1” (2018). Although he recently lost the election, Silvio Berlusconi (Toni Servillo), a notorious real-life Italian businessman/politician, slowly comes to plan his comeback shortly after his private meeting with one of his close associates (This character is also played by Servillo, by the way), and we accordingly get a funny sequence showing how he persuades six senators one by one to be on his side for bringing down the current administration – and how he manages to get away with his dirty deed even though it is later exposed in public.

Meanwhile, he becomes more associated with Sergio Morra (Riccardo Scamarcio) and Morra’s girlfriend/associate Tamara (Euridice Axen), who, as previously shown in “Loro 1”, are willing to get any favor from Berlusconi as smelling more of his sweet smell of success and power. For Berlusconi and his associates, they constantly provide many opportunities of fun and excitement, and Berlusconi has a fairly good time with that, but then he still cannot help but feel lonely and empty despite being on the top of the world as before.

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And he is also reminded of how old he is now at present, especially during his private time with a young woman introduced to him via Morra. Although their meeting initially seems to be just for sex, the woman comes to say some truthful words to him, and he comes to feel more depressed than before while becoming more aware of his aging status.

Anyway, things get more exciting for him as he eventually becomes the Prime Minister of Italy again, but there soon comes an unexpected incident of earthquake in L’Aquila, and that is just the beginning for what will come upon him and his government next. While he frequently gets into troubles due to his numerous unwise comments in public, his associates demand that he should be more serious about his work and public image, but he does not listen to them much, and he soon finds himself facing another damaging scandal.

In case of his private life, it becomes quite more problematic as his wife Veronica (Elena Sofia Ricci) finally decides that enough is enough not long after coming back from her spiritual trip in Cambodia. Later in the story, they come to have a long argument between them, and Veronica certainly does not mince her words at all during that argument.

As briskly hopping from one episodic moment to another, the movie busily rolls around many different moods, and there are a number of good moments to remember. I enjoyed a wryly humorous scene showing Berlusconi trying to con some ordinary middle-aged woman just for confirming to himself that he has not lost any of his salesman skill yet, and I also appreciated the palpably devastating dramatic effect from the L’Aquila earthquake sequence.

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However, these and other notable moments in the film do not mesh together well enough to generate any substantial narrative momentum, and this storytelling flaw only illuminates how banal and superficial many of its main characters are. Although Tony Servillo is reliable as usual and he does have a few nice scenes where his talent and presence shine, Berlusconi in the film does not have much depth or personality from the beginning, and that is what keeps Servillo’s good performance from being as memorable as his rich deadpan performance in Sorrentino’s previous film “Il Divo” (2008), where he was an utterly hilarious and compelling enigma as completely immersing himself into another notorious real-life politician in the Italian political history. In case of the other substantial characters in the film, they are merely unlikable caricatures we do not care much, and I frequently noticed how many of its female characters are blatantly objectified throughout the movie.

In conclusion, “Loro 2” is a little more enjoyable than “Loro 1”, but what we ultimately get from these two self-indulgent films is no more than a long series of hedonistic moments propelled by lecherous desire, and they only reminded me of several better films such as Martin Scorsese’s equally uncomfortable comedy film “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), which is far more acerbic and electrifying in comparison. Sure, many characters of that film are no less superficial and despicable than the characters of “Loro 1” and “Loro 2”, but their unpleasant story is handled with sheer energy and black humor at least, and the overall result surely makes whatever is presented in “Loro 1” and “Loro 2” pale in comparison.

By the way, after they were shown together at the Cannes Film Festival early in last year, “Loro 1” and “Loro 2” were combined together with around one hour being cut from this process, and the resulting version was subsequently released outside Italy. I have not seen that version yet, but I am not particularly interested in watching it now, and I would rather recommend you to watch “The Wolf of Wall Street” instead.

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