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

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - MICHAEL DWYER

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)

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