6 July 2004 | rc615
sordi at his peak
Are we dealing with Alberto Sordi's top interpretation? Maybe not, but we are as close as hell...Anyway, superbly directed by Monicelli (once again, excellent job done in Cinecittà Studios recreating the early 19th century Rome), Sordi impersonates eccentric Marchese del Grillo, who actually lived, although not in the same period the movie depicts. Monicelli uses Del Grillo's myth and his plethora of jokes to expose the hypocrisy of Vatican and noble Romans, while ideas such as "freedom, equality and brotherhood" were slowly penetrating in the conservative Vatican State. Marchese del Grillo is surely a life-lover and an intellectual in his own way, and does not feel satisfied in narrow-minded 1815 Rome, despite (or maybe, because of) his wealth. He befriends frenchmen, enjoys spending time with common people and doesn't mind to corrupt a whole jury just to show that "justice is dead". While the first part of the movie may be just biographical (and extremely funny and full of unforgettable punchlines), the movie has its pivotal point when Marchese discovers he has an exact lookalike, who works as a coal seller (also played by Sordi, outstanding in his double role) in popular Rome. By trading places with the coal seller (often drunk, thus not really understanding what's going on), Marchese gets the chance to get rid of his family, the Pope Rome to join the cradle of European intellectual life, Paris. Sure, Alberto Sordi is by himself worth watching the movie, but nevertheless, Monicelli manages to show us an unusual side of History we often see or read. And by doing this, he also throws in the movie an handful of unforgettable characters both fictional (the coal seller, Don Bastiano, Ricciotto) and actual (Pope Pius VII, a noble family, such as the Del Grillos). Well, in the end, a must see, a movie with a double value: an outstanding comedy and a valid historical film.