Film

Film

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A pill-popping, booze-guzzling Maria Callas spent most of her final years crying while listening to her old albums and flirting with a picture of Aristotle Onassis. Franco Zeffirelli, who saw this firsthand, rewrites the timeline by using a fictional proxy (Jeremy Irons) to get the opera icon (Fanny Ardant) out of the apartment to lip-synch her greatest hits. Turning Callas into Ashlee Simpson–as–Norma Desmond isn’t quite the best form of idol worship, but Zeffirelli, through either a moment of conscience or a diva ex machina, at least allows his imaginary Callas a respectable outcome. Sadly, this camp drama, a eulogy by one of Callas’s closest friends, pales in comparison to the four minutes of “La Mamma Morta” in Philadelphia.