The story is of how Ida Dalser and Benito Mussolini had a relationship where Mussolini seemed always very passionate, and where Dalser gave away everything for the founding of Mussolini's newspaper, but then Mussolini brushed her away because he already had a wife. The problem? He and Dalser had a son, and this furthered Dalser to him. Or so she thought. This doesn't really matter to the man, as he forgets all about her and she is left to yell at him and be forced away by people into a mental institution.
Up until this point, Bellocchio had meticulously controlled everything so that it was very much like an opera. There were very few sets and very few actors, as well as, as my friend said, "not much light." But, as the film follows Dalser into the institution, it gets less like this, more confusing, and more depressing, much like Clint Eastwood's much worse "Changeling" did two years ago. I don't like this genre of films very much.
This really made me down, but the film feels "classic" (as my friend said) enough to give you a reason to see this film. The film does get worse, but is very good at times. In other places it was a little flawed, too; for example, the sex scene at the beginning is a little long and the film is at places a little too "fly-on-the-wall" topical. The characters aren't the most memorable, as well, but, to use a common phrase, "they don't lack in intensity." I mean Giovanna Mezzogiorno in particular as Dalser. As others did, I thought Fillipo Timi was good in his double role (which got a little confusing) as (as said before) "father and son Benito." Overall, this is a piece that shows more work in terms of style than character, both a benefit and downsizer. B-