Choosing to focus on Mussolini as a young man, before he became Il Duce, allows Bellocchio to grapple with some little-known details about the dictator's life, indeed the great secret of his past: early on, he had a wife and a son, both written out of the historical record and denied recognition.
Bellocchio superbly dramatizes this story while skilfully weaving astounding archival footage into his narrative, moving from the intimate, hot-blooded relationships to the stirring newsreels of the period as relationships disintegrates. The film has been a revelation for Italians, not only confronting them with the image of the Duce – seen strutting in full-screen bravado – but also provoking comparisons, vigorously denied by Bellocchio, between Mussolini and Italy's current prime minister, Berlusconi. This is serious, intelligent filmmaking of the highest order.
Piers Handling, Féile Idirnáisiúnta Scannán Torontó