Based on his successful book The Empty Throne (Il trono Vuoto), Roberto Andò unravels through his award winning film an extraordinary journey into the psyche of Enrico Olivieri, a depressed politician who reflects the complicated socio-economic crisis in Europe upon his personal struggle.

When he starts losing popularity and confidence within his own party as well, he decides to disappear. His assistant, in a desperate attempt to find a solution so as to avoid the party’s defeat in the upcoming elections, persuades his twin brother to cover for him.

Despite his being an ideal solution due to the brothers’ identical appearance, Giovanni is a completely different personality. He is an ingenious philosopher and academic, fascinated by poetry and art and also suffers from bi-polar disorder. His unprecedented freedom in expressing himself and his rhetoric, charming speech is not only going to change things round as far as Enrico’s popularity is concerned but is also going to give politics, as an ideology and practice, a completely different meaning. When his brother decides to come back the shift has been so significant due to Giovanni’s influence on people, including Enrico himself, that no one is actually able to tell the difference between the two.

Toni Servillo delivers an outstanding performance in this double role and carries the film through. Not only does he impersonate remarkably two entirely different personalities, showcasing his talent, but he is also contributing significantly to the director’s realistic approach on a “personal truth” so that the two brothers seem like real life characters. Valerio Mastandrea’s performance as Enrico Olivieri’s assistant is also remarkable giving his character an essential and solid subtleness.

Using a form of polite irony, sarcasm as well as some direct and indirect Fellini-esque innovations Roberto Ando goes back to the realistic roots and the legacy of great Italian authors not just to honor them, but also to synch their artistic accomplishments with the current situation.

While their Greek neighbors are choosing a Weird New Wave of artistic expression in cinema to depict a dystopia symbolising the socio-political crisis in Europe, to Italian filmmakers appeals a version of “Reality Reproduction” hidden in the collective subconscious. They are using fantasy, creativity and sarcasm to make a film world build on paradoxically looking situations which depict alternative realities. They suggest the possibility of impossible solutions through films like Habemus Papam by Nanni Moretti or the Academy Award Winner The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentino introducing what Roberto Ando described when we interviewed him, as a “New -Romantic Italian Wave”. 

Viva La Liberta. Director: Roberto Andò. Scrip: Roberto Andò, Angelo Pasquini. Cast: Toni Servillo, Valerio Mastandrea, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi. Year: 2013. Country Italy.

By Eirini Nikopoulou

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