This subtitled Italian drama tells the story of Ida Daiser, the secret mistress of Benito Mussolini, long before he became the fat, fanatical dictator. She meets him when he is a young agitator and they have a brief passionate fling. A few years later their relationship is rekindled and she sells everything she has in order to fund his fascist newspaper. But then she finds out that he's married with a young daughter and this enrages her, especially as she's pregant with his first son. She tries everything in her power to get recognition from him, claiming that she has a marriage certificate, but is eventually locked away in a mental asylum for 11 years, separated from her young son who is sent to an institution. In all that time she never ceases to claim that she is Mussolini's wife but is looked upon with increasing scepticism by all that come across her.
It's a true story that doesn't feature in Mussolini's official history apparently, and is certailnly a tale worth telling, but unfortunately this attempt never catches fire. Mezzogiorno, whom you may remember from Love In The Time of Cholera, gives an impassioned performance as the wronged woman. She's plausible in her rage and devotion and confidently carries the narrative, but overall it's too slackly paced and desultory to engage. One is never involved in her plight and you're never moved by the injustices she encounters. Timi as Mussolini doesn't make much of an impression as her lover.
Overlong and with a ludicrously inappropriate music score that gives it an operatic quality, Vincere ultimately just lies and dies there. Top production design cannot compensate for a misjudged effort that falls far short of what it could've achieved. Shame.