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Reckoning

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MY BROTHER IS AN ONLY CHILD

SYNOPSIS:
In 60s and 70s Italy, Accio Benassi (Elio Germano) is irritable, explosive and a trouble maker. He fights every battle like a war and his parents despair - especially when he signs up with the Fascists. His brother Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) is handsome, charismatic and loved by all - especially the lovely Francesca (Diane Fleri), although underneath he is equally as dangerous - and a committed Communist. Things get complicated when Accio falls in love with Francesca, but even more complicated when Manrico's political pssion boils over.

Review by Louise Keller:
Italy's volatile political state in the 60s and 70s is at the heart of this potent drama that uses the conflicted relationship between two brothers as the mirror through which we can watch the vivid reflections. Fascism and communism come head to head, not only in the streets, but in a working class household, where Elio Germano's Accio and Riccardo Scamarcio's Manrico find themselves in constant conflict.

Based on Antonio Pennacchi's novel, Daniele Luchetti opens our eyes to life for Italy's man on the street, living in a city where Mussolini's shadow lurks around ever corner. Accio is a gauche, pimply-faced youth who doesn't fit in anywhere and joins the local fascist party inspired by a local table-cloth seller Mario (Luca Zingaretti). He lacks the good looks of his brother Manrico, who is the apple of his mother's eye, and whose every activity meets with the family's approval, including his communist activities. When Accio is often left to keep Manrico's girlfriend Francesca (Diane Fleri) company, it is not surprising that an attraction grows.

Things become more and more complicated. On a personal front, there's Accio's after-hours relationship with Mario's wife (Anna Bonaiuto), and on a political level, violence creeps in and things get out of control. I found the hand-held camera approach irritating and quite distracting from the narrative. Some may argue the shakiness epitomises the state of the nation as well as the erratic behaviour of both brothers, but it took me out of the story. This is a tough film with plenty to say and it makes its points well. Performances are superbly naturalistic and always intense, like the film.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
You have to feel sorry for Italy and her people, fired with passion and thrown into turmoil by it. In this dramatic, satirical comedy tragedy, the conflicts of Italian politics is played out with incisive accuracy. The failures of the system in providing adequate housing are compounded by venal officials who demand bribes to execute their tasks. And that's not all, but that's enough to give us a sense of the deep well of frustration that fuels the politics of the brothers Benassi.

The brothers, first as early teenagers later as young men, are in constant conflict with each other, let alone the world. Accio Benassi (Elio Germano) is smart and volatile, while Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) is handsome and unreliable. The performances are astonishing, perhaps enabled by the flawless script. And they are not the only actors to shine: every single part is beautifully cast and performed. Luca Zingaretti as the thuggish Fascist leader Mario, Diane Fleri as Francesca, Manrico's lovely girlfriend whose appeal is irresistible by Accio, and Angela Finocchiaro as the brothers' mother Amelia.

My one major reservation is the cinematography, which succumbs to the silly fashion of the unsteadily hand held camera, further degraded by a failure to let us see scenes in wideshot so as to establish overall physicality. The often crude device seriously undermines an otherwise excellent - and very popular - film.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

MY BROTHER IS AN ONLY CHILD (M)
(Italy, 2007)

Mio Fratello Figlio Unico

CAST: Elio Germano, Riccardo Scamarcio, Angela Finocchiaro, Luca Zingaretti, Massimo Popolizio, Alba Rohrwacher, Anna Bonaiuto

PRODUCER: Marco Chimenez, Giovanni Stabilini, Ricardo Tozzi

DIRECTOR: Daniele Luchetti

SCRIPT: Daniele Luchetti, Sandro Petraglia, Stafno Rulli (novel by Antonio Pennacchi)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Claudio Collepiccolo

EDITOR: Mirco Garrone

MUSIC: Franco Piersanti

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Francesco Frigeri

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Aztec/Sharmill

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney & Melbourne: June 19, 2008







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