The last year in the life of Bettino Craxi, as told by Gianni Amelio.
An undisputed protagonist of international politics and, until recently, revered in Italy, Bettino Craxi is now in Hammamet, far from his homeland. Overwhelmed by the populist surge that toppled the formerly governing democratic parties which rose to power during the first fifty years of the Italian Republic, and caught up in a series of judicial inquiries, President Craxi can no longer return to his homeland as a free man. A master at commanding respect in the political arena, Craxi is also surrounded by opportunists; he is down but not out; and he is left to fend for himself in a home on a hill, where he lives out his final months like a caged beast.
Hammamet is also the touching story of a father and a daughter, Anita, who stands by his side after everyone else has fled. Craxi is ill and in dire need of life-saving treatment. Anita goes to lengths that only the greatest love can justify as she struggles to make her father relent and set aside his ideas at least at this crucial time in his life; he must agree to return to Italy to be treated, at the cost of losing a freedom he believes he deserves. The conflict between his ideas and his familial love – between political motivations and those of the man – will be fierce and, eventually, fatal.
Hammamet is the never-ending struggle typical of the great Classical tragedies. Like in Antigone, the reason of State conflicts with the reason of man; like Oedipus at Colonus, the mystery of human life is investigated; hence, the greatness of public life stretches inexorably towards the sunset and the veil of death. The story is more private than public; politics are worked into the plot only to provide the necessary context. Like in a Shakespearean play, feelings are fathomed to shed light on facts.