Media magnate-cum-politician Silvio Berlusconi has already been a cinematic target, most visibly in Nanni Moretti’s “The Caiman,” which despite its muddled structure allowed for more chilling comments on the phenomenon than does “Shooting Silvio.” Low-budgeter about a guy who decides to kill the then-prime minister has too many script weaknesses for even moderate biz, despite streams of ink generated via savvy marketing.
Controversy has dogged writer-director Berardo Carboni’s pic from the get-go, with Berlusconi partisans expressing outrage at the title alone, long before the film’s staggered release this spring. Funding was so scarce that cast and crew worked largely for free, while distribution, through startup company Cinedance, is on a city-by-city basis, slowly spreading across the country in a limited number of prints.
Giovanni (Federico Rosati), nicknamed Kurtz (yes, as in “Apocalypse Now”), is a moody, rich brat. He throws a party where he proposes each guest writes a one-page explanation of why and how to eliminate Berlusconi — not just the man, but his legacy as well.
Friends see it as a joke, but Kurtz pursues his project with Hamlet-like intensity, concluding he’ll have to knock off the P.M. alone. Film’s first half loads up on a choice selection of embarrassing Berlusconi clips, along with vids of journalists kicked off the air when they refused to tote the notoriously thin-skinned pol’s line. However, the second half chucks aside political commentary for a messy look at Kurtz’s obsession and his relationship with American ex-pat Melanie (Melanie Gerren).
Sabina Guzzanti’s superb docu “Viva Zapatero!” is still the only film that successfully tackles not only Berlusconi’s disturbing control of Italian public discourse but also the fundamental flaws in a system that made his rise possible. “Shooting Silvio” has the makings of a brave assault, so it’s too bad the ideas aren’t fully thought through and lack bite.
Real promise is shown in the early reels, with attractive lighting and smooth lensing, but d.p. Alessio Valori appears to lose interest long before the pic passes the hour mark. After giving the initial party sequence a very Antonioni-like feel, helmer Carboni resorts to straightforward dialogue sequences that play like cheap soap operas, complete with stilted delivery. Alessandro Haber’s bizarre turn as a foreign waiter with a stereotyped accent is an embarrassment.
Visuals are crisply transferred from Mini-DV to 35mm. However, music is overused, contributing to the overall feeling that the pic was created by and for a limited group of friends.