Oh, that naughty Mussolini. Sure, we remember him for the fascism and the brutal torture of his enemies, but he was also a bad boyfriend. That is the thesis of Vincere
, which tells the tale of Ida Dalser (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), who may or may not have been Mussolini’s first wife. Their passionate romance begins before Il Duce renounced socialism in favor of a new ideology based on the worship of Mussolini. As the dictator grew in power, he lost interest in Dalser and the son she bore him. Ultimately, he saw to it that she was institutionalized and stripped of parental rights. So if you needed another reason to hate Mussolini, there you go. Director Marco Bellocchio uses some clever cinematic tricks. While Mussolini is played by an actor in the first half of the film, he’s played by Mussolini in the second half, as Bellocchio uses newsreel footage to flesh out his story. Meanwhile, Filippo Timi, who portrayed Mussolini for the first 40 minutes, later shows up as Mussolini’s son. Bellocchio also switches between soap-opera-style cinematography for the romance scenes, and an overblown, imperial style for the crowd scenes. Unfortunately the film bogs down in the final half hour, becoming surprisingly slow. Still, it’s worth watching for the fine performance by Timi, and an inventive initial 80 minutes or so.