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Vincere (2010)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 90
Fresh: 83 | Rotten: 7

Part political treatise, part melodrama, Marco Bellocchio's Mussolini biopic forsakes historical details in favor of absorbing emotion -- and provides a showcase for a stunning performance from Giovanna Mezzogiorno.


Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 28
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 1

Part political treatise, part melodrama, Marco Bellocchio's Mussolini biopic forsakes historical details in favor of absorbing emotion -- and provides a showcase for a stunning performance from Giovanna Mezzogiorno.



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Movie Info

This unusual and offbeat historical drama rests on a little-known conceit. Though seldom discussed in history books (and reportedly undisclosed for half a century), fascist dictator Benito Mussolini conceived an illegitimate son by a woman named Ida Dalser -- a son Mussolini allowed to be born, acknowledged, and then promptly denied for the duration of his life. The tale begins in early 20th century Milan, with Benito (Fabrizio Costella) working as the socialist editor of a controversial


Art House & International, Drama

Marco Bellocchio

Jul 27, 2010


IFC Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (91) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (83) | Rotten (7) | DVD (2)

Carol Crivelli's soaring classical score heightens Bellochio's operatic tendencies.

December 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An astute study of amour fou and a cautionary tale about how the worship of false idols can lead to personal and national collapse.

May 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bellocchio has turned the story of Mussolini's discarded wife and son into a movie that has some of the bully swagger and excess of Il Duce himself.

May 11, 2010 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The untold story of how fascist strongman Benito Mussolini rose to power by trampling on the woman who loved him is a bracingly cinematic lesson in how all politics is personal.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Vincere is a thrilling period drama about the power of delusions.

April 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's visual poetry here and haunted performances from Mezzogiorno and Timi -- who plays two roles, and is especially gripping as Dalser 1/2 1/2s grown son.

April 6, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bellocchio encapsulates the long-running mass hysteria of a nation enthralled by the demagogic antics of a now-seeming buffoon.

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

It's a real treat to see this provocative examination of the life of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. As Dalser, Giovanna Mezzogiorno delivers a passionate, ho-holds-barred performance. Filippo Timi is equally good as the bullish, blustering Mussolini.

July 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

The events occur not to tell a narrative, but to illustrate an emotional progress.

March 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

A series of striking images that serve little purpose except to look striking.

October 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

In telling the story of one wronged woman, Bellocchio shows how an entire country was flattered and seduced, then betrayed.

August 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin State Journal

An art-house version of a historical drama that takes plenty of risks--some of which are more successful than others. But you can't say enough about Giovanna Mezzogiorno's performance.

July 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Movie starts off with a bang, but begins to lose interest as the main character (Ida Dalser) descends into mental illness.

May 28, 2010 Full Review Source:

It's all a grand and flashy affair -- but also weirdly prone to the incoherence, redundancy and bullying dehumanization that characterized the political history it presumes to critique.

May 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Vincere maintains its grip through sheer flair.

May 20, 2010 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

This skilfully made film tells a terrific story but is rather too densely packed to appeal to audiences unfamiliar with (or uninterested in) Italian history. Although it gives the wonderful Mezzogiorno yet another vivid role.

May 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Writer/director Bellocchio boldly orchestrates a whirl of archival newsreel footage, silent-movie clips and fictional re-enactments.

May 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A full-blooded melodrama pitched at the level of grand opera.

May 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

An audacious, wildly operatic exploration of Mussolini's rise to power from the perspective of the secret wife whom he all but erased from history.

May 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Scotsman operatic sendup of the strongman as monument, a tongue-in-cheek indictment of absolute power that at times comes dangerously close to deification.

May 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The screenplay is unkind to lead actor Giovanna Mezzogiorno, requiring her to replay the same obsessive behaviour in less-than-inspiring locales, and all the film's energy just fizzles out.

May 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian | Comment (1)

Audiences are unlikely to feel sufficiently involved to cope with all the emotional agony.

May 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

Ravishingly beautiful, immersive and with terrific performances from the two leads, it's a real gem.

May 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Masterly directed. Powerful and tragic. Pure cinema.

May 13, 2010
Little White Lies

The story might fascinate if it weren't plunged into a stylistic deep freeze -- when your best sequences are chunks of greatest-hits newsreel, you're clearly in trouble.

May 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Audience Reviews for Vincere

Who would have guessed that a biopic - about Mussolini, no less - could have turned out so avant-garde? Although consistently overshadowed by its (admittedly) superior Cannes counterpart "The White Ribbon," the Italian film "Vincere" still has its strengths, disregarding conventional biopic mechanisms in favor of a taut, yet occasionally overwrought, dramatic storyline.

By omitting the traditional "this is where he started" bits, "Vincere" immediately catapults the viewers into the center of the action. The film is remarkably operatic, with clamoring swells and swoops and a soundtrack rivaling the likes of "Amadeus." Director Marco Bellocchio ("Good Morning, Night") makes skillful use of old 1930s film reels, masterfully juxtaposing grainy WWI propaganda with scenes from the film, flashing and fading out of victims in mental hospitals with sunken eyes just as the opera voices billow and subside.

Where "Vincere" succeeds most at is exploring the concept of sex as a mechanism of character - before Mussolini comes into power, he is seen subjugating Dalser, foretellingly, in much the same way. In one particularly harrowing scene, Dalser spreads herself naked on a comforter, having sold all her possessions in order to fund her lover's Socialist newspaper. "Say you love me, just once," the needy Dalser begs. In true fashion, Mussolini responds by violently pressing his lips against hers, obscenely ravishing her naked body. The image fades out, and a troop of advancing soldiers marches across the screen, preliminarily connecting the bedroom to the battleground before the historical events happen.

Yet the problem with "Vincere" - as with all biopics - is that it comes off as quite one-dimensional, essentially focusing on Mussolini's pathway to power through his character and personal relationships. Once the dictator leaves the film halfway following his abandonment of Dalser to a mental institution, there is fundamentally no more film, leaving us to deal with Dalser's theatrics in the absence of a powerful male figure.

As a Mussolini biopic, the melodrama had worked wonders. As an Ida Dalser one, it's a bit too much, as the actress Mezzogiorno screams obscenities, psychotically flinging letters onto the ground and generally raising havoc among the ward. Her performance is powerful, to be sure, but her character is simply not interesting nor sympathetic enough to carry the film by herself. Viewers can neither identify nor sympathize with Dalser's overtly masochistic tendencies, and soon, her hysterics begin to grow a little old.

If the first half were taken in isolation, "Vincere" might have been applauded as a greater film, portraying the gripping story of dictator ravenous for all aspects of power, sex and love. While the second half is not terrible, it falters tremendously in contrast, carefully and destructively losing steam with every second it goes over.
April 29, 2011

Super Reviewer

Without a doubt, this is the best movie I have seen this year! Political unrest, the rise of fascism and Mussolini, interspersed with actual vintage newsreel footage. There are eerie parrallels with Mussolini's relationship with Ida and Italy itself. As always, Mezzogiorno is equally stunning and enthralling to watch. This is a story that needed to be told and deserves recognition for its complexity and impact on Italian national identity and consciousness.
August 16, 2010

Super Reviewer

It is always a good sign for a biopic, which this really is not, to start in a totally unfamiliar place to the viewer. At the start of the stunning mad fever dream of a movie, "Vincere," Benito Mussolini(Filippo Timi) is not a fascist, but at the other end of the political spectrum, a socialist, in Milan in 1914, challenging god to strike him down. Unluckily for a lot of people in the future, he is not but Lady Ida Dalser(Giovanna Mezzogiorno, in a superb performance) is sure as hell impressed and they are soon making hot sex. So, Mussolini who lived on a steady diet of police confrontations where he shouted that the last king will be choked with the entrails of the last pope(Or is it the other way around? I get confused...) sees his opportunity with the beginning of World War I. While most of his colleagues want neutrality, he wants war, publicly claiming it as a revolutionary act. In a coldblooded way, he does have a point, since the world will never be the same way again, and the Russian Revolution has a lot to do with this. But in reality, he sees an opportunity to work the popular sentiment, not against it, creating a newspaper, Il Popolo D'Italia, that Ida sells all of her belongings to support.

And what writer-director Marco Bellocchio does wonderfully with "Vincere" is use the style of agit-prop movies, especially those by Sergei Eisenstein(yes, there is a baby carriage), with archival footage to ably dissect these movies and the movements they promote.(Movies are also everywhere in the film, not only in theatres, but in hospitals and outdoors, too.) With fascism, they dictate the reality they so much want to control every detail of. Ida is representative of the people in that she is drawn to Mussolini through animal magnetism, as an insanity took hold over the populace.(Another meaning of insanity is somebody who cannot accept reality.) And for many, fascism is an ideology that does its thinking for you. However, there are some things you cannot control and Mussolini could not how his story would end.
April 4, 2010
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

A very prestigious and dramatic character study of Ida Dalser, Mussolini's secret lover. She bore him a son, and sold all of her belongings to fund his newspaper which made him become known to the public, yet he disowned her and pretended he didn't even know who she was. The film was up for the Golden Palm in 2009 at Cannes, and has a great operatic score, with some beautiful cinematograpy. It was directed by Marco Bellocchio, and stars Giovanna Mezzogiorno(Of "Don't Tell" and "Love in the Time of Cholera.") The best scenes in my opinion were when Dalser was watching Chaplin's "The Kid," her eyes in tears, as she could sincerely relate to the film, and the scene when she was outside in the snow, clinging to the gate, throwing letters out into the night, while a scene of her son pushes down a statue of Mussolini's head in his boarding school, that whole sequence was eloquent and beautiful.
May 3, 2010
Kyle S

Super Reviewer

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