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As the national election approaches, seasoned politician Enrico Oliveri has plummeted in the polls and his supporters and adversaries alike begin to acknowledge his impending downfall. Unwilling to face the failure of his party and his nation, Oliveri vanishes into the night, causing panic within his political inner circle. His top aide and his wife contact his identical twin brother, Giovanni, a genius philosopher living in a psychiatric institution. The three of them concoct a dangerous plan and what at first seems like a crazy idea proves to be their only solution. The twin brothers are played by the great Tony Servillo (some of you saw him last year in THE GREAT BEAUTY)
Viva La Liberta opened in New York several weeks ago to less-than-favorable reviews. We think it is much better: a nimble, shape-shifting political drama sprinkled with sly comic moments.
The twin brothers are crafted brilliantly. There’s no wacky costuming or wildly disparate personalities at play, the twins distinguish themselves in Servillo’s subtle performance(s). They become their own men through little more than differences in facial expressions, senses of humor, and moral outlooks.
Servillo is playing two roles in two languages (in Paris he speaks French). He’s so good at it that Ando never feels tempted to actually put the brothers on screen at the same time – one of the easier ways to call cheap attention to a dual role film. Servillo is a master, and pulls off a great feat once he begins playing not only two identical characters, but two identical characters that occasionally like to pretend to be each other.
As Giovanni begins to succeed in place of his brother, Enrico is faced with a terrible question: how does he square the fact that his brother may not just be different than him, but better? The subtext is both sad and cerebral.
VIVA LA LIBERTA is underwritten by a grant from the Olga Ragusa Fund administered by the IU Department of French and Italian
Ryder Films are screened at several venues, each with its own peculiar charms, and you can read about them here.