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Review: Sei fratelli


- A more incisive approach might have enhanced this fight-ridden family reunion by Simone Godano, which is led by a first-class cast

Review: Sei fratelli
Mati Galey, Riccardo Scamarcio, Valentina Bellè, Adriano Giannini, Claire Romain and Gabriel Montesi in Sei fratelli

A reunion of siblings following the death of a father is a fairly popular subgenre within the family drama - or, if the cap fits - family comedy category. It’s hard to decide which of these two classifications best suits Sei fratelli, the fourth feature film by Simone Godano (Marilyn ha gli occhi neri [+see also:
film profile
), which is hitting Italian cinemas on 1 May via 01 Distribution. It’s likely that the author’s intention was to produce a perfect blend of drama and comedy, despite the fact the film seems to falter in both these areas.

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The family in question is an incredibly extended one: six children by four different mothers, who have come together – and in the case of one of them, are meeting for the first time – following the suicide of their progenitor Manfredi Alicante (Gioele Dix), who decided to take his own life by throwing himself out of the window of the hospital where he was being treated for a terminal illness. Thus, in rainy Bordeaux, Marco, Guido, Leo, Gaelle and Mattia (respectively Riccardo Scamarcio, Adriano Giannini, Gabriel Montesi, Claire Romain and Mati Galey) gather around the notary, together with Marco’s wife Giorgia (Linda Caridi) and Manfredi’s final partner Nadine (Judith El Zein). But then, out of nowhere, appears Luisa (Valentina Bellè), a daughter who has been hidden from them right up until to the last by an adventurous and globetrotting father who had been wholly absent for all of his children, apart from this latter child who remembers him as loving and affectionate. Their inheritance consists of a mountain of debts and an ostrich farm which has, to this day, only produced one little nugget, named Luisa in honour of the daughter herself.

As they wait to decide what happens next, the siblings are forced into an obligatory and quarrelsome cohabitation in their father’s villa located on the banks of the Garonne. Each of the siblings have their own characters, their own stories, their own ghosts, and a variety of reasons to hate one of the others… Such as instinctive and sensitive cook Leo who has never forgiven his successful TV director brother Marco for taking Giorgia away from him, whom he still loves to this day. Relationships are renewed, intensifying and then softening, as we follow them through a succession of often unconnected situations, courtesy of Godano’s skilful direction and Guillaume Deffontaines’ handheld camera, which acts like an invisible intruder, closely observing family dynamics which are all too often seen in more substantial movies. The desire to be funny which emerges from the screenplay - penned by the director and Luca Infascelli – inevitably results in all the usual clichés, such as the scattering of the ashes scene (familiar from films such as The Great Lebowsky and Carlo Vanzina’s Us in the U.S.), but the film is inspired by Paolo Virzì’s sense of dramedy and Gabriele Muccino’s ability (not to mention that of past authors, such as Scola and Monicelli) to create an authentic “ensemble” feel, though the movie is first and foremost reminiscent - unsurprisingly, given its setting - of the bittersweet humour which characterises plenty of French comedies. Overall, a more incisive approach would definitely have enhanced this ensemble story, which is led by a first-class cast.

Sei fratelli is produced by Groenlandia together with RAI Cinema.

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(Translated from Italian)

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