Panorama | Spotlight on France
It is hard to overstate how much love the French—especially Parisians—have for the Egyptian-born (of Italian parents), longtime Paris resident and singer/actress/icon known as Dalida (real name: Iolanda Gigliotti). A square in Montmartre has been named after her (the bust of her head and torso on display there has been rendered shiny and smooth in the, well, "bust area" by thousands of caressing hands), her kitschy, gold-flaked tomb in Montmartre Cemetery is always covered in fresh flowers, and tour guides jump at the chance to point out her elegant home in that district. Why the fuss? Because, to coin an overused phrase that is absolutely apt here, she was, indeed, "larger than life." Lisa Azuelos’ jam-packed biopic perfectly demonstrates this fact while capturing the highs and lows of an extraordinary superstar’s extraordinary (and extraordinarily sad) life.
Italian actress Sveva Alviti incarnates the strong-willed entertainer with a verve that helps explain why Dalida topped the charts from the late 50s until the mid-80s, eventually selling 170 million records worldwide (she also acted in, among other things, Youssef Chahine’s La sixième jour). While showing Dalida’s professional life to be like something almost anointed from above, Azuelo’s chronological approach—the film was co-written by Dalida’s brother, Orlando—contrasts professional high-points with the tragedy that was her personal life: no less than three of her lovers committed suicide. And so did she, leaving behind a note that said, "La vie m’est insupportable… Pardonnez-moi." ("Life has become unbearable for me… Forgive me.")…
"[The film] features a stellar impersonation—not quite a performance but an uncanny impression—by unknown Italian model-turned-actress Sveva Alviti, who is not only a dead ringer for the dead star but also, just like the title character, a charismatic force of nature that’s impossible to ignore… Alviti steals the show in every single scene."—Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter