The story told in Vincere, despite being as faithful to history as one can reasonably expect, is not widely known. This is due in large part to efforts made 80 years ago to erase these events from the official record. Recent research has uncovered many of the facts, resulting in a TV documentary, two books, and now Marco Bellocchio's partially fictionalized account. The chief fascination with Vincere is the opportunity it affords to view Italy of the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s through a different prism than one we're accustomed to, and to be provided with a new (although not altogether unexpected) perspective of Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. The movie opens with a brief sequence in 1907 featuring the first meeting of the young socialist firebrand Mussolini (Filippo Timi) with the equally idealistic Ida Dalser (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) at a rally. Events flash ahead to the twilight of the pre-World War I era, when Mussolini and Ida are more formally introduced. They become lovers and she sells her worldly possessions to fund the development and publication of the newspaper, Il Popolo d'Italia. The two are married in a low-key ceremony and Ida bears Mussolini's first-born son, who is named after his father. Mussolini goes away to war and returns a changed man. Now fiercely devoted to the fascist cause, he abandons his wife and son to marry his mistress, Rachele (Michela Cescon). When Ida won't go gently into obscurity, Mussolini has his cronies incarcerate her in a mental asylum, which is where she spends most of her days, with her mad love fermenting into bitterness and anger. Meanwhile, her son ends up in an orphanage, where he grows up to resemble his father (and is played by the same actor, Filippo Timi).
Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Filippo Timi, Michela Cescon