The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #28 July / August 2017
Movies
At the Cinema
Welcome Mr. President
by Erik Zidowecki
July / August 2017 | 


Welcome Mr. President
1h 38min
Comedy
21 March 2013 (Italy)

Country: Italy
Language: Italian

The film under review this month is Welcome Mr. President (Benvenuto Presidente) from Italy. It is a comedy about how a simple man becomes the head of Italy and what it does to the country.

A humble fisherman and librarian, with the nickname Peppino, who loves to teach children history and culture, lives in a small mountain village. When we first meet him, he is receiving the news that the funding for his small library has been cut, so he is out of a job.

Meanwhile, in Rome, the current President has been forced to resign, and the leaders of the three main political parties are forced to come up with a new president to elect. To "send a message" to each other, the leaders propose a historical figure for vote. By coincidence, they are all influenced by the statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi in the Parliment and tell their constituents to vote for him.

'Welcome Mr. President' is a fun look at the craziness of politics, but in a different way then the slightly darker 'Viva La Libertà', in which the political replacement is a literal crazy man.

When it turns out that all parties voted for him, making it a valid vote, it is revealed there is only one viable candidate named that: our out-of-work librarian, Peppino.

So you can imagine how shocked Peppino is when both he and his best friend Luciano are accosted while fishing by the three party leaders, a general, bodyguards, and a trio of limos. When they tell him he is the new President, at first he thinks it is a prank, but once he understands they are telling the truth, he gets in a car with all three so he can be taken to Rome to resign.


The heads of the parties, learning they elected a completely unknown person as President

During the ride, the leaders offer him various positions and rewards as long as he resigns, and he soon realizes how corrupt they are. Upon arriving in Rome, he is shaved, dressed up, and coaxed on how to give the renouncement speech by the deputy of the General Secretary of the President, Miss Janis Clementi. As he starts to give it, however, he notices how the corrupt men who brought him there are so gleeful, so he decides not to renounce, and instead to remain the President.

As you expect, there are a lot of scenes of him being trained on the numerous protocols and responsibilities while he naively tries to be himself, which makes him look like a fool to everyone. This delights the corrupt three, who are sure this will get him removed from office very quickly.


Peppino is in awe of how big everything is in the palace

Peppino sneaks out one night to get some pizza and is recognized in the pizzeria by the locals, who all want to meet and talk with him. When news gets out how much he is a good person and not a complete fool, his ratings go up. When he later ditches a meeting with the Brazilian President to entertain some children in a hospital, the results are the two leaders both playing with the kids, bonding, and Brazil promising to take 200 billion euros of Italy's debt.

Realizing he is becoming more popular, the three call in a professional political hitman named Faust whose specialty is exposing people's secrets, hoping to cause a scandal. When he cannot find anything against Peppino, Faust threatens Luciano, who then has a heart attack and ends up in the hospital.


Negative press pours in and Peppino looks for a way to fix it

Peppino starts to realize just how serious his opposition is, and even as he and Janis are falling in love, he looks for a way to fix everything. But how can you change a corrupt system when no one in control wants it changed?

Welcome Mr. President is a fun look at the craziness of politics, but in a different way then the slightly darker Viva La Libertà, in which the political replacement is a literal crazy man.


Peppino, in disguise, at a local pizzeria

A few times, it accidentally slips into sheer absurdity, like when marijuana is accidentally cooked into the pizza of a state dinner for a bilateral conference with the Chinese President, everyone starts dancing, and then they break into a song everyone knows, including the foreign dignitaries, while Janis plays it on a guitar she pulled out from under the table.

Sadly, on the language and travel side, there is little to offer, since everything is in Italian and takes place in the same general area of Italy.


Peppino with his son, who is asking for polictical favours

For the prudish, I have to warn there is some brief nudity in the film. The amount of foul language and violence is very low, however.

If you are studying Italian and want a light comedy, then Welcome Mr. President is definitely a film I would recommend for you.


 
1
At The Cinema - Welcome Mr. President
Writer: Erik Zidowecki
Sources:
• "Welcome Mr. President (2013)" Internet Movie Database <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2767948/>
All images are copyright Indigo Film, Rai Cinema, Film Investment Piedmont (FIP), Film Commission Torino-Piemonte

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.

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