Friday, 15 May 2009

My Brother Is An Only Child

The film clubs Thursday film 'Mio fratello e figlio unico' (2007) directed by Daniele Luchetti
"Luchettis sweeping saga, divisions within working class family encompasses 15 years of political turmoil in a nation's history"

Set in the 60s and 70s this film is based on the novel by Antionio Pennacchi called 'Il Fasciocomunista'. The story follows the lives of two working class brothers living in Latina, a small model town built by Mussolini near Rome in the Pauline Marshes.

The film opens with a young 13 year old Antonio Benassi, whose nickname is Accio (bully) due to his belligerence, training in a seminary to be a priest. He questions the institution and leaves suddenly to return to his family. They don't exactly welcome him with open arms as the apartment is overcrowded and rundown. His sister has taken his bed so he has to sleep in the corridor.

Accio wants to continue his studies in Latin but his father thinks this is pointless and sends him to the technical college so he can get a trade. Disaffected, he forms a friendship with a father figure, Nastri, who is a fascist and influences Accio with his ideas. Accio joins the movement.

In contrast Accio's older brother Manrico (Riccardo Scamerico) is a handsome, charming leftist. He meets Francesco (Diane Fleri), a student with similar ideas and they become lovers, when Accio meets her he too falls in love.

Manrico starts to work at the factory where his father is employed and begins to organise the workers. The fascists plot to burn his car and Accio tries to stop them, to no avail. Now disillusioned with the violence of his fellow fascists he breaks with them but Nastri's wife Bella's (Bonaiuto) interest in him is beyond politics. They go to bed together under the Mussolini bed sheets. She is besotted and buys him that quintessential Italian small car of the 60s the Fiat 600 (Love those doors that open backwards).

The brothers are now both on the communist side as the sit ins spread across the Europe of 1968.

Francesca has moved to Turin and Manrico visits at weekends and if he doesn't then Accio does. The brothers are growing closer but Manrico is becoming more extreme whereas Accio just wants to see things change. The need for change is symbolised by the Bonassi's house where cracks appear, walls crumble and they are promised new housing. The keys to the houses are available but corruption prevents them occupying them. The posturing of the right and left give no practical help.

This is an engaging film with its squabbling but loving family, a coming of age of a boy, a love story and a country and people desperate for change. The term bittersweet would encapsulate the feeling of this film and Luchetti has a light touch while dealing with some dark times but not without humour.

The soundtrack is superb taking you, with music, to that period and the end tune 'Amore Disperato' by Nada sends you humming out of the cinema although not all has gone well. The handheld camera in one of the fight scenes put you right in the way of harm! The acting is first-rate of all the participants. Vittorio Emanuele Propizio who plays the young Accio is suitably belligerent and I believe that Elio Germano who takes the role of the older Accio won a best actor award.

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