Bond of brothers
MY BROTHER IS AN ONLY CHILD/MIO FRATELLO È FIGLIO UNICO Directed by Daniele Luchetti. Starring Elio Germano, Riccardo Scamarcio, Diane Fleri, Alba Rohrwacher, Angela Finocchiaro
Club, IFI, Dublin, 100 min “A FASCIST in the family is always handy, like a doctor,” declares Accio, one of the protagonists of My Brother Is an Only Child, as he agrees to exact revenge on the suitor who dropped his sister. Beginning in 1962 and spanning the next 15 years, the film follows the interlinked fates of two working-class brothers in the Mussolini-founded town of Latina, south of Rome.
Born to devout Catholic parents, Accio (Vittorio Emanuele Propizo) enters the seminary as a precocious boy but is overtaken with post-pubescent lust. In his late teens Accio (Elio Germano, taking over the role in a remarkably seamless transition), now fiery and rebellious, enthusiastically joins the Fascists – to the horror of his older brother Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio), an avowed Communist.
The rift between the brothers turns personal as well as political. Accio resents the handsome Manrico’s success with women, and matters become even more complicated when he falls for Manrico’s Communist lover (Diane Fleri). Through the experiences of both brothers and their committed allies, the movie vibrantly captures the passionate political engagement of young people at a time of rising tensions and turbulence in Italy.
Based on Antonio Pennacchi’s novel, Il Fasciocomunista, the screenplay is by Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli. Having scripted Mario Tullio Giordana’s magisterial epic The Best of Youth (the first great film of the 21st century), and collaborated on the screenplay for the arresting crime saga Romanzo Criminale, Petraglia and Rulli are clearly fascinated by the political and cultural movements of the period.
As in those earlier screenplays, the scenario of My Brother Is an Only Child is played out against the turmoil of real-life events in Italy (the rise of terrorism, the death of Mussolini) and internationally (the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam), and accompanied by exuberant pop music of the period.
While the new film is neither as ambitious nor as expansive as The Best of Youth, it is nimbly directed by Daniele Luchetti, who demonstrates an empathy for his conflicted characters and elicits fine performances in a movie that is both dramatically involving and entertainingly comic.
Across the great divide: Fascist Accio (Elio Germano) and Communist Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio)