Love and Anarchy

Love and Anarchy ★★★½

Lina Wertmüller is so good with dialogue and also anarchic moments when everyone is talking (at a dinner table, drunk in the streets). And I love how authentic her dirty/dingy moments feel. This one concerns a man (Giancarlo Giannini) on a mission to kill Benito Mussolini, who shacks up in a whorehouse for a few days beforehand to make contact with a woman (Mariangela Melato) who's gleaned inside information due to the whole Italian police frequenting her bed. It's a frenzied first hour with loads of dark humor that dips into a lull when the love story enters the picture and then finds steady footing again when the political talk bubbles back to the surface. The love story is standard hooker with a heart of gold fare that pulls the brake on the absurdities that surround the narrative (the drunken chauvinist rant, the ease of taking over a farmer's house for governmental sexual exploits). And the central man is primarily performed as an oafish blank slate who stumbled into political anarchy which makes the shift to emotional moments not register in the correct way.

Still, despite this underdeveloped titular narrative detour (the actors are innocent), Love and Anarchy is bleakly funny throughout and authentically bawdy and foul in the right places (Mussolini's security). Using the brothel to show how much of a police state Italy actually is under Mussolini is a great touch.

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