Paolo Sorrentino’s Loro is art in the Age of Trump — so basically the most weak-sauce imaginable critique of a buffoonish caricature (former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi instead) meant as comfort food for liberal audiences. There’s plenty of low-hanging fruit to gawk at here, from Berlusconi himself (played by Toni Servillo, caked under an unseemly volume of make-up and mugging for nearly every second he’s on-screen) to his young underling Sergio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who tries to catch the media tycoon’s attention by throwing endless amounts of ecstasy-fueled soirées. Both men are vain, selfish, and cynical, which serves the film’s transparently one-note mockery of the world’s current political atmosphere, even as it contains the development of even a single female character over the distended 145-minute runtime. (Originally released as two separate movies earlier in the year, Loro has now been edited into one shapeless mess.)
Sorrentino is less concerned with exploring the psychology of these narcissists than with showing them in the most opulent possible situations. Why take a moment to explain where Sergio’s lust for power came from when you can have him railing coke and fucking women half his age instead? Loro’s numerous party sequences (usually set to pulsating EDM music and featuring as many half-naked models as possible) are what Sorrentino tries to pass for commentary on the administrative class, as if presenting such debauchery were the same as condemning it. But maybe the crown jewel of Sorrentino’s carelessness is how he slowly transforms Berlusconi into a source of pity, a choice that completely removes any point that the supposed “satire” had been building to.
Published as part of September 2019’s Before We Vanish.