Movie Review: Vincere
4.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund
Historical fact does a mesmerizing dance with artistic license in “Vincere,” an epic Italian melodrama-cum-biopic pristinely directed and co-written by 70-year-old legend Marco Bellocchio (“The Wedding Director”). A contender for the Palme d'Or at Cannes 2009, the film tells of Ida Dalser, Benito Mussolini's one-time lover and supposed first wife, whose story – as told by Bellocchio and fellow scribe Daniela Ceselli – is by turns romantic, glamorous, scintillating, enraging, pitiful and deeply tragic.
While no records confirming Dalser's marriage to the formidable Fascist dictator have ever been found, she apparently remained insistent unto her death that the two were formally wed, and that Mussolini was the father of her only son, Benito Albino. “Vincere,” a title that translates to “victory” or “win” in English and warrants multiple interpretations, takes the liberty of filling in the holes of what's on the books about Dalser's downward-spiral life (dramatizing the secrets uncovered by investigative journalist Marco Zeni), and lifts what could be reductively described as a Lifetime-movie setup into the lofty realm of great Italian cinema.