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My Brother is an Only Child
UKScreen Rating:

My Brother is an Only Child – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Italy’s working classes divided into two sides in the 1960s and 1970s and this film studies the political landscape through the relationship between firebrand Accio (Germano) and his older, more stable brother Manrico (Scamarcio).
Manrico knows what he thinks and knows what he wants. He’s a respected member of the local communist movement, and he’s in a healthy relationship with a good woman.
Accio, having quit the seminary, signs up to join the fascists – probably more to annoy his family than because it reflected his true beliefs.
This clearly drives a wedge – if one were needed – between the two brothers – and Accio’s growing attraction for Manrico’s girlfriend hardly helps to bring the pair together.
But over the years that follow, Accio crosses the political divide, as Manrico becomes more of an anti-establishment campaigner himself.
The love-hate relationship between the brothers provides a window through which to view Italian society at a highly influential period of the country’s history.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This is a worthy film that tackles many serious subjects – from political differences to family tensions and personal rivalries – but Germano’s breezy flippancy provides much humour along the way, in a coming-of-age drama that spans two decades.
It’s an admirable and ambitious project that succeeds on many levels, but it’s a little too long and often feels slow. It’s also, clearly, a film that will appeal more to people who know – or care – about Italian history.
Some of the key scenes are tremendously powerful, with bristling tension and energetic camerawork balancing strong performances from the leads.
The younger brother’s politics do seem to be unrealistically fickle, with rather too much political toing-and-froing for the character and his motivations to feel convincing, unless his fickle nature is just his way of rebelling against society as a whole.
And it’s often hard to sympathise with either of side of the polarised political spectrum, leaving it hard to be able to identify with any of the main characters, which is clearly a weakness in any drama. You have to care – and too often in this film, you don’t.

opens nationwide 4th April 2008

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