It will be difficult to get a complete take on this sprawling and personal film as the American cut we are getting is missing over an hour of footage. Paolo Sorrentino, the director behind The Great Beauty, originally released the film as two films, each around 100 minutes. This cut is around 2.5-hours.
Loro is a character study about Silvio Berlusconi with many liberties taken. Sorrentino imagined his private life and has made a film seeped in indulgence, not unlink Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street. This plays to the director's strengths. Sorrentino is a wonderful scenarist, capable of creating mesmerizing scenes of beauty, nudity, great music, and incredible production design. Loro looks fantastic for every frame.
What is harder to grasp is the character at the center of all this hedonism. Berlusconi spends much of the film trying to mount a political comeback. In the process, he is challenged by those around him, including his wife and closest accomplices. And yet, he is never fazed, often incapable of a real response to anything that may hurt him or ruin his image. At one point, he tells someone "The only thing that matters is that you believed me."
Over the film's runtime, we see cracks in this facade. Berlusconi is an isolated man full of contradictions. He is terribly insecure but never believes any of the criticism against him. He is reminiscent of a certain political figure dominating the news currently in that way. Much of the tension in the film is around seeing if anything will make a dent on his self-image and bring him down to earth.
Toni Servillo is magnetic in the role. He is a regular collaborator with Sorrentino and there is no doubt they crafted this character study together. Servillo brilliantly captures the oil slick of a personality that is Berlusconi. Still, Loro struggles to offer much depth. The film is very much obsessed with Sorrentino's usual interests but the whole thing is less provocative than some of his previous films. Perhaps because this is about a real public figure, he reserves his bold style a bit.