Wine, women, song and drugs color the sprawling opinions of a world-famous Neapolitan crooner as narrated by an award-winning Italian film director.
Sorrentino, whose brilliant film Il Divo won the Jury Prize at Cannes, makes his fiction debut with the autobiography of lurid yet likable Tony Pagoda, “a screwy god of a man who can out-sing Sinatra," whom we first meet performing at Radio City Music Hall, followed by a session with three Times Square hookers. Tony’s episodic account of his life is a nonstop onslaught of sex, profanity, high-rolling and low-dealing across decades. Highlights include the drugs shoot-out in which his dealer is killed and he is saved by Mr Heavy; his loss of innocence at the hands of imperious Baroness Fonseca; and his cockroach-ridden retirement in Brazil. Tony’s garrulous voice regales us with character portraits and philosophy, carnality, grotesqueries, smells, flavors, fluids and above all judgments on Italy. He is as corrupt and charismatic as his homeland to which he returns on the eve of the new millennium, courtesy of a nouveau plutocrat. Although happy to be reunited with his old musical crew, there is much to disparage—Italy is full of Ikea furniture, foreigners and figo, or “cool.”
A furious, ironic, idiosyncratic, unexpurgated torrent, capturing Italian modernity through the lens of a monstrous character. Not for the faint-hearted.