My Brother Is an Only Child Movie Review

Scripted by Stefano Rulli and Sandro Petraglia, the duo behind 2005's commendable The Best of Youth, Italian director Daniele Luchetti's awkwardly-titled My Brother Is an Only Child starts off in a very odd place before being coaxed back to familiar environs. In telling the story of two brothers on feuding sides of the political spectrum in 1960s Italy, Luchetti begins on the side of pro-Il Duce fascism before getting wrapped up in his own tempered version of post-collegiate radicalism.

Young Accio (Vittorio Emanuele Propizio) yearns for the priesthood, but not as much as his young body yearns for the bodies of Italian movie actresses, whom he discovers through small photos. When he can't get a straight cure from the clerics, Accio goes secular and takes up a kindred cause: fascism. His older brother Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) is celebrated by their parents for causing a riot at work under the banner of communism and unionization, but a teenaged Accio, played by the talented Elio Germano, takes chastisement at every turn for his loyalty to the ways of Mussolini.

A local worker and faithful fascist named Mario (Luca Zangaretti) takes Accio under his wing, and the hormonal whippersnapper begins to take part in demonstrations, minor acts of rebellion and even a field trip to Mussolini's grave. Then he meets Manrico's communist girlfriend Francesca (the luminous Diane Fleri), who gets his engines running while debating the state of their ravaged government. When it becomes obvious that Francesca wants only to be with her dear Manrico, Accio takes the low road and begins to sleep with Bella (Anna Bonaiuto), a beautiful older woman who also happens to be Mario's wife.

Luchetti, Rulli, and Petraglia rudimentarily intertwine political and sexual awakening but they do so in an engaging, highly entertaining manner. Accio's eventual abandonment of fascist ideology is at first a matter of familial bonds, but it ultimately becomes the violence of the fascist brotherhood. While beatings and a set of car torchings by the radical right are devious, the violence and radicalism of the left is romanticized, if only because it's Manrico who gets the attention of both Francesca and their mother (an excellent Angela Finocchiaro) while Accio only summons one kiss from Francesca and grief from mom. Another scene of partisanism, though staged brilliantly, shows the two parties clashing at a makeshift performance of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." The brute fascists don't appreciate the classics.

Despite these hindrances and a rather vacuous interpretation of post-WWII Italian tensions, Luchetti crafts an entertaining, gorgeously-shot film out of familial and sexual barbs. Fleri plays wonderfully with Germano and Scamarcio, which gives the romantic triptych a startling charm. Claudio Collepiccolo's amorous, handheld camera gives the work a rush and a kinetic feeling; You feel at any time the current scene will trample over the forthcoming scene. Its politics firmly glib, My Brother Is an Only Child works best as an Italian dramedy with its history used as window dressing and any original thought kept happily to itself.

Aka Mio fratello è figlio unico.

You gotta fight for your right to Mussolini.

Cast & Crew

Director : Daniele Luchetti

Starring : , , , Massimo Popolizio, Alba Rohrwacher, , Amma Bonaiuto, Diane Fleri


Comments

My Brother Is an Only Child Rating

" OK "

Rating: NR, 2008

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