Il Caimano

I have finally got around to watching Il Caimano, the much-vaunted film about Berlusconi that was released just before his narrow defeat in the 2006 Italian elections.

And I have to admit that I was a little disappointed.

Whilst every other journalist at the time (as I distantly recall, though I wasn’t following Italian politics so closely) was harping on about this film, all I see in it is an arty-farty piece of work in which the director is cowardly hiding behind theatre and illusion in a desperate attempt to portray Berlusconi as he really is, without ruffling too many feathers.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved parts of the film and I’m a big fan of Silvio Orlando, the lead actor. I also tend to love Italian movies of this ilk – gritty, realistic drama.

But for me – who had settled down to enjoy Berlusconi ripped to shreds – the film dealt too much with the mundane life of a film producer and less with the life of Berlusconi, as I had thought it would. Apart from a brief but amusing bit of footage in the European Parliament, when Berlusconi likened German MEP Martin Schluz to a Nazi Concentration camp guard (a particularly nostalgic moment for me, since I was there to report on it), there was actually very little in the film about Berlusconi. It was all about Il Caimano, the lead charaacter of the film that is being produced within the film (if you follow me), who was used to portray certain aspects of Berlusconi’s character. Which every free-thinking person in Europe knows already. It was then left up to journalists (who absolutely pounced on the film – given that Berlusconi is such an easy subject for news stories) – to link the aspects portrayed in the film to the characteristics of Berlusconi.

So, no, sorry. Whilst I may be at odds with art critics everywhere (the film featured prominently at Cannes), I found Il Caimano an arty-farty piece of crap that didn’t have the balls to stand up to Berlusconi. Worth seeing for Silvio Orlando’s marvelous performance, and worthy in its own right for its portrayal of a struggling film producer, but it does not, in my honest opinion, accomplish what critics the world over have credited it with.

There is a need for a good Berlusconi movie. I’m wondering whether I should write one.

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