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Venice Review: ‘The King Of Laughter’

Venice Review: ‘The King Of Laughter’

The Great Beauty and The Hand Of God star Toni Servillo plays Neopolitan actor and playwright Eduardo Scarpetta in The King Of Laughter (Qui Rido Io), Mario Martone’s latest Venice Film Festival competition premiere. An affectionate, theatrical portrait set in the early 20th century, it culminates in an historic court case, but the build-up is leisurely to a fault.

We first meet Scarpetta when he’s preparing to go on stage. It’s a place where he seems the happiest, if you discount the beds of various female family members. That pretty much sums up the characterization that takes over two hours to repeat. We see that Scarpetta craves the adulation and laughter of the audience, and is having affairs with both his wife’s sister and his wife’s niece. Everyone knows that the resulting children are his, but it’s barely spoken of: he’s known as “Uncle” to the kids.

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