“Gianni Agnelli inherited all that he owns, I made it myself”, “I am sane and the magistrates are disturbed”, “I dream a world without jails.” These are some lines from the Berlusconi recounted in Paolo Sorrentino’s Loro 1. Out on April 24, the film release wasn't preceded by a press conference nor interviews with the director. This might happen instead upon the release on Loro 2 on May 10th, when Sorrentino and main actor Toni Servillo should meet the press.

Silvio Berlusconi makes his entrance halfway through this first part of the film. He’s depicted as a fun man, a good laugh without mysteries nor shadows, only with a passion (or weakness) for young girls, sometimes underage too. As for his role as Andreotti in Il Divo, thanks to the make-up, Servillo plays Berlusconi and really looks like him: same hairline, same small eyes, same perpetual smile. “All documented, all arbitrary” says the initial quote by Giorgio Manganelli. As the intertitle at the beginning warns, the story is inspired by facts both probable and invented, real characters and creations of the author’s imagination. It’s typical Sorrentino’s style, hyperrealist and at times excessive, almost baroque, dominated by a musical score that mixes a wide range of genres.

The story takes place between 2006 and 2010, the third (2005-2006) and fourth (2008-2011) Berlusconi government, peppered by the Rubygate scandal, the bank transfers to the so-called “Olgettine” and the escort case that will the core of the Bari process. At least in this first instalment, Sorrentino is more interested in Berlusconi as a man rather than as a politician. Sorrentino states: “The world sees Berlusconi as a very simple person, but by studying him I understood he is much more complex. The choice of the events to be told, doesn’t follow a principle of significance postulated by the chronicle of those days. It only aims to dig up, groping around, the conscience of a man.”

However, as the title warns, the film also looks at the multi-faceted court surrounding the king, a group of character depending on cocaine, sex, and betrayals. From the escort broker to the President’s favourite to the former minister, by exploiting Berlusconi and living in his shadow, everybody try to get personal profits and change their lives for good. That’s how Sergio Morra (Riccardo Scamarcio) Tamara (Kasia Smutniak), Santino Recchia (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), Fabrizio Sala (Roberto De Francesco) recall real-life characters who had direct or indirect connections with Berlusconi: Gianpaolo Tarantini, Sabina Began, former minister Sandro Bondi, Lele Mora.

In the end, “Loro” (lit. Them) are a rough copy of the king they admire and idolize, and they are even worst than him. In this amoral and decadent atmosphere, the only exception seems to be Berlusconi’s wife, Veronica Lario (Elena Sofia Ricci), depicted almost as a prisoner, a reader of Saramago’s novels and soon to break up: “Don’t touch my dignity, you can bewitch all the others, but not me.” It won’t be of much use bringing singer Fabio Concato to their villa in Sardinia to perform “Domenica bestiale”, the song that marked their first love encounter.

As usual, Sorrentino punctuates the film with sudden apparitions of animals: a rhino, a sheep, a mouse, and even a precursor of Dudù (the poodle of his future girlfriend). Among the several film references, that garbage truck falling and exploding in the Roman Forum recalls the blast of the villa in Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point. At that time, that sequence had a revolutionary value. Does this have it too, now?