It’s normal not to feel in control. Despite how much we’re told that we’re able to steer our lives, it’s hard to dispute that some of the crucial facts of our existence are mostly determined away from our grasp. This may well be the truth cementing the very foundation of cinema. Stories, in their most common form, put one or multiple characters in front a challenge they need to overcome to achieve a desire. However they react, whether they manage to prevail or whatever they end up becoming in the process, the engine of traditional plots is the protagonist’s attempt to assert control over their life. For better or worse, a sense of agency is imbued into the hero, and by extension, into the viewer. Politics lend itself particularly well to being a narrative hurdle. Those who have attended any kind of political event, or participated even in the most menial party activities, will know that by its very nature, politics is a theater of contrasts and friction. Crucially, what matters is how individuals cope with the unholy entanglement of collective action, ideology and personal interest blocking the path towards their objectives, regardless of their motives.
Paolo Sorrentino’s Loro is a biopic about a character that never existed.
When my parents first met, in 1992, politics was very difficult topic to avoid, especially in Milan. The city had become the epicenter of the biggest political scandal of the century when the unearthing of a minor investigation had led to discovering an immense network of favors and gifts compromising most of the country’s political and economic leadership. You would’ve been hard pressed to find someone whose employer hadn’t been summoned to court. My parents worked for a gargantuan industrial conglomerate, and unsurprisingly their cubicles were regularly raided by the financial police. I grew up hearing the stories of old socialist politicians trying to hide the grease money in the bookshop where I bought most of my childhood’s books, of how the collapse of the old order had happened almost overnight.