From Dave to The Dictator, politicians-replaced-by-doppelgängers has long been a favorite comedy movie device — yet never has it been employed for more torturous faux-funny business than in Viva la Libertà.
Squandering all the good will he engendered with last year’s superb The Great Beauty, Toni Servillo stars as Enrico, a dour and unpopular politician who abandons his post to hang out with his former girlfriend Danielle (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) in France. Luckily for Enrico’s left-in-the-lurch comrades, he has a twin brother no one knows about! And better still, that sibling, professor Giovanni (also Servillo), is a freethinking (and antipsychotics-popping!) author and philosopher who charms Italy and fires up his party by spouting haikus and dancing barefoot with dignitaries!
Such role-reversal nonsense is predicated on one illogicality after another, and is dominated by dual Servillo turns that are equally one-note and inert. While the story’s setup seems fit for broad comedy, director Roberto Andò stages his material with such staid delicacy that the entire film is overcome with lethargy — a situation compounded by the lack of a single humorous set piece, or any specifics about the political climate Giovanni reignites.
Consequently, everything about Viva la Libertà is generalized, genial, and altogether insufferable.