Mini-Review: Benvenuto Presidente! (2013) Still Wants to Believe in Democracy

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Giuseppe Garibaldi (Claudio Bisio) aka Peppino lives in a small mountain village in Italy, where he works as a librarian. One day there is a mixup in the Italian government and the three leading parties elect him as the new president of the republic. Peppino is supposed to clear up the misunderstanding and go back to his life, but when he sees all the corruption going on in Rome, he decides to remain and play president just for a little. At first he is a complete disaster. Once he understands how the system works however, he decides to change things. Needless to say his opponents want him out. 

Comedian Claudio Bisio has had quite a few hit comedies in Italy lately, Benvenuto Presidente! (literally: “Welcome President!”) being his latest. This fish out of water story, is interesting for several reason, not the least of which being its political message. If you’re an Italian (like me), you know corruption is one of our country’s biggest problems. The film makes an excellent point of showing that and showing that we could have better institutions and be better off, if we’d all change, not just the politicians. It’s easy to blame others for everything, but at the end of the day we’re all a bit dishonest and greedy.

The film makes a good point to show how we could all change and improve Italy. For all its good-hearted feelings and funny moments, the film as a whole is a bit too much of a caricature and the characters, although not completely one-dimensional, feel too cliché. While I wanted to like this film more, because as I said I think it has a beautiful message, I couldn’t get passed of how generic it was on every other level. Yes, it’s a decent time and you get a couple laughs (especially if you’re Italian), but then there’s not much else that really stands out. Still somewhat charming and definitely worth thinking about and discussing.

6.5 out of 10

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