16 May 2014 | siderite
Good subject, horrendous script
Bill Emmott feels at home in Italy (probably because of so many double consonants in his name - sorry, could help myself) and he describes the country as his girlfriend, a lovely place, with so much potential, but devoured by corruption from the inside out. A worthy subject that holds merit. However, the Michael Moore-ish style of the documentary and the condescending intellectualism displayed in the film makes it hard to stand, difficult to empathize and impossible to like the film maker.
The guy is a fierce intellectual, decrying (and justly so) the Berlusconi era in which Mafia and media monopoly led to the economic and moral decline of Italy, however he does it from such a pompous superior position, pitying the poor natives who can't make a decision for themselves because they watch mostly TV and that is owned by Berlusconi and his gang. There are some people that he invites to speak their mind, but they are either higher ups in multinational corporations like Nutella and Fiat or artists or politically active intellectuals as himself. Faithful the the Moore style, he even shows himself talking to Berlusconi and obtaining a pledge to give an interview for his documentary, a pledge that was never honored, of course. I can imagine the same type of documentary about African nations, created by some English colonialist explaining the benefits of British rule over the inferior population who mean well, but just can't handle it.
I really didn't want to turn my review into a such a vitriolic critique of Emmott, but an hour and a half of listening to the man does that to you. The documentary is complete with manifesto-like animated cartoons and dramatic music, scenes with Emmott moving around in Segways and bicycles and drinking the trademark minuscule Italian espresso, woman emancipation movements based on singing and "solutions" for reinvigorating the Italian South with church sponsored shelters for the handicapped and places hiring women to do manual labor.
When you get to the "graph" of the greatness of Italy you realize just what kind of message the film delivers: the Roman Empire is a high point in the history of Italy, the Renaissance is much higher on the scale, though, dropping down to zero with the Medici banking system and getting back to Renaissance levels only with the Neo-realism cinema, finally drowning with the coming of Berlusconi to the sound of crying children.
Bottom line: the idea of the film is good, the problems Italy faced and continues to face are real and should be discussed, but not by this arrogant British consumer who thinks Nutella, coffee and neo-cinema are the strengths of a country and naked girl TV shows the bad, on par with the Mafia and Berlusconi, who he attacks at every opportunity. Besides, when you feel the need to use animated characters to express a thesis, you should probably analyse better its content. Exactly because the subject is so thorny and important I feel disappointed to the point of anger by this type of presentation. Just forget the cartoons, the dramatic music and the quotes from Dante narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch and show the facts, analyse the impact, document real solutions! That's what an economist should have done.