Lisa Azuelos directs Dalida – a biopic of the international pop icon, Yolanda Gigliotti, better known as Dalida. The singer’s incredible music ability was surrounded in passionate love affairs and deep personal tragedies – something which Azuelos captures with this astounding feature. Dalida is a film that delivers poignant melodrama, endearing spirit, and euphoric musical artistry.
Azuelos’s screenplay (created in partnership with Dalida’s brother, Orlando) opens with the singer’s suicide attempt in 1967, before exploring Dalida’s prior rise to musical stardom and romances. The project dips into the singer’s early life, whilst also providing a comprehensive picture of Dalida’s later career and loves until her suicide in 1987.
Dalida makes a fascinating protagonist – haunted by her father’s detainment during World War II, she is haunted by tragedy and spectres of pain and death – something encapsulated by the film opening with her 1967 suicide attempt. Azuelos’s film captures this tragedy paralleled with Dalida’s extraordinary vocal talents and beauty, with the director carefully using the singer’s poignant lyrics to mirror the film’s narrative events and character emotions. Azuelos captures Dalida’s whirlwind romance with Lucien Morisse and the beginnings of her career, whilst touching on her lack of children, laying much of the film’s heartbreaking emotional groundwork.
As the film progresses, Azuelos explores Dalida is a figure unfazed by societal expectations, a woman of such love that all she can do is follow the path of her heart. This leads to brief relationships with artist Jean Sobieski and Italian musician Luigi Tenco – who would ultimately commit suicide during his relationship with Dalida. Tenco’s suicide marks a pivotal part in Dalida’s life, with the musician becoming more fragile and attempting suicide herself. Yet Azuelos finds inspiration in this – particularly in recounting Dalida’s returning zest for life and passion for music. Here she finds new love, twenty-two year old Lucio (Brenno Placido), before later embarking on a more volatile relationship with media personality Richard Chanfray (Nicolas Duvauchelle). Within all these relationships, Azuelo captures Dalida’s spirit and passion for music, ensuring even when tragedy or pain follow her, there is an endearing tale of strength at the heart of the picture.
Sveva Alviti soars in the film’s title performance – capturing the magnetic, world-adored appeal of Dalida. Alviti convincingly channels the pain and heartbreak faced by Dalida through her turbulent relationships but seems equally at ease when portraying Dalida’s incredible euphoric musical performances. Director Azuelos also explores the unfaltering passion of these grand musical performances – from the radio friendly charm of ‘Bambino’, the shattering emotion of ‘Un po’ d’amore‘, or the blistering disco energy of ‘Monday Tuesday … laissez moi danser‘ – the latter captured in a sublime musical dance scene that truly conveys Dalida‘s magnetism and energy as a performer, expertly captured by Alviti’s multi-faceted performances.
Azuelos has crafted a masterpiece in Dalida. A film searing with the searing energy and passion of the titular singer. Filled with deeply touching emotional notes, grand musical performances and an endearing tale of the strength of the human spirit, Dalida is a masterpiece.
Biography, Drama, Music | France, 2016 | 15 | 2017 Edinburgh Film Festival | Dir. Lisa Azuelos | Sveva Alviti, Riccardo Scamarcio, Jean-Paul Rouve, Brenno Placido