Italian charm in My Brother Is an Only Child
by Fabien Lemercier
It was a warm welcome today at the Cannes Film Festival for the only Italian feature selected this year in the competitive sections of the festival: Un Certain Regard title My Brother is an Only Child [+see also:
interview: Daniele Luchetti
interview: Riccardo Tozzi
film profile] by Daniele Luchetti.
Written by the director and scriptwriting tandem Stefano Rulli-Sandro Petraglia (The Best of Youth, Romanzo criminale [+see also:
interview: Michele Placido
film profile]), the film may not as compelling as recent Italian films on national history told through personal stories but it does exhibit an irrefutable charm driven by a rapid rhythm and an exceptional performance by rising star Elio Germano (who steals the limelight from his partner, teen heartthrob Riccardo Scamarcio).
The feature charts the life of two young brothers, their love lives and their divergent political interests from 1962 to the early 70s. Loosely adapted from the Antonio Pennacchi novel Il Fasciocomunista, My Brother is an Only Child also has its moments of humour, notably in its treatment of opposing ideologies, which at times borders on caricature and makes it necessary to find shortcuts to suit the story in the last part of the film – minor errors that do not, however, prevent the film from developing a strong power of attraction.
Centred on the adolescence of two characters from a working class family in Latina (just southwest of Rome), the well-mastered first part of the film focuses on character portraits. Loner Accio (Germano), nicknamed "the ringworm", dreams of “all or nothing” and is a passionate student, while handsome Communist Manrico (Scamarcio) is more interested in girls. After he is sent home from a novitiate, the impetuous Accio – who has a fraught relationship with his family – gets involved with Fascist supporters through the influence of his "guru" (Luca Zingaretti) and participates in several violent protests. Meanwhile, Manrico becomes a spokesperson for striking factory workers before developing extreme left wing tendencies. He also has a child (for which he accepts no responsibility) with the young Francesca (Diana Fleri), with whom Accio is also infatuated.
The story then moves on to Rome and Turin, following a brotherly love put to the test by political dissension for a family tale told parallel to the rise of extremism prior to the so-called “Years of Lead” (of domestic terrorism). The deaths caused by these brutal events see Fascist Accio change camp to Communism and later political indifference while bon vivant Manrico develops radical leanings to the point of risking his life.
Produced by the very dynamic Cattleya, My Brother is an Only Child received backing from Warner Italy and was jointly produced by French outfit (10%) by Babe Films for a total budget of €5.03m. Already released in Italy, the film will be distributed in France through StudioCanal and is being sold internationally by ThinkFilm.
(Translated from French)
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