Make me an of­fer

THE FAM­ILY FRIEND/ L’AMICO DI FAMIGLIA Di­rected by Paolo Sor­rentino. Star­ring Gi­a­como Rizzo, Fabrizio Ben­tivoglio, Laura Chi­atti Club, IFI, Dublin, 103 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Reviews Film - DON­ALD CLARKE

PAOLO Sor­rentino’s The Con­se­quences of Love, a sleek thriller in var­i­ous shades of grey, re­vealed its di­rec­tor to have a good eye for the type of glossy im­age that fits well into car com­mer­cials or pop videos. The film was, how­ever, some­what short on nar­ra­tive fi­bre.

The Fam­ily Friend me­an­ders through sim­i­lar ter­ri­tory to its pre­de­ces­sor – crime, lone­li­ness, ca­sual sur­re­al­ism – but man­ages to dig up a grip­ping story and peo­ple it with in­trigu­ing, colour­ful char­ac­ters. Those who can with­stand the un­for­giv­ing cool­ness of the project should get along quite nicely with it.

The film fol­lows the mis­ad­ven­tures of an el­derly money­len­der as he ex­ploits the vul­ner­a­ble in­hab­i­tants of a pro­vin­cial town a short dis­tance from Rome. Gi­a­como Rizzo makes quite a beast out of Geremia Di Gere­mei. Car­ry­ing about many folds of skin on his dead calf of a head, the bit­ter old man, who lives in un­nec­es­sary squalor with his obese mother, has de­vel­oped a lu­cra­tive line in lend­ing out funds to fam­i­lies plan­ning elab­o­rate wed­dings.

Neme­sis is trig­gered when one trou­bled fa­ther, dis­traught at his in­abil­ity to make the pay­ments, in­vites his cred­i­tor, who moon­lights as a tai­lor, into the bride’s bed­room to, ahem, make an adjustment to the wed­ding dress. Shortly there­after, Geremia agrees to make an enor­mous loan to a group of en­trepreneurs in the bidet busi­ness. His grue­some for­ni­ca­tions with the bride-to-be and his fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety are wo­ven to­gether in a de­noue­ment that, though con­fus­ing, has the sat­is­fac­tory twisti­ness one might ex­pect from a David Mamet script.

The Fam­ily Friend does oc­ca­sion­ally ex­hibit a ten­dency to­wards man­nered ec­cen­tric­ity. But this re­mains an im­pres­sively as­sured piece of work that be­lies care­ful plan­ning and a sure con­fi­dence of tone. It con­firms that – in de­fi­ance of an arch re­mark made by one of the char­ac­ters – there is still con­sid­er­able vi­brancy in the Ital­ian film in­dus­try.

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