My Brother Is an Only Child—whose title I’ve yet to completely wrap my mind around—moves so playfully and briskly you may not notice its glibness, which may have been director Daniele Luchetti’s intent. Indeed, by the time the foul-mouthed young Accio (Vittorio Emanuele Propizio) gets his head shoved into a sink full of water by his older brother Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) and, through the magic of seamless movie editing, resurfaces as a grown man (Elio Germano), you also may not have processed the boy’s point about “having a conscience crisis” (he begs God to kill him of pneumonia in exchange for curing the world of communism), let alone the odd little scene where a friend at seminary school offers to milk his lizard. Unlike Louis Malle’s great Lacombe Lucien, which laconically expresses how innocence is easily and cunningly gripped by fascism, Luchetti’s characters already have dug their boots in the dirt by the time the film commences, with Accio sympathetic to the fascist cause and his entire family emboldened by communism. There’s no sense of what Accio is fighting for, let alone an understanding of the roots of his aggressive political convictions, though we are repeatedly told they’re wrong, and as such subject to correction. The communists are no saints either, but because they are on the side of a lower-class community being dicked by local government over a new housing project, the audience’s sympathies clearly lie with them, and it will take a botched attempt to drop the kids off at the pool—courtesy of a cataclysmic crack in his bathroom’s wall—for Accio to follow suit. His name recalls Accatone and his mouth is as dirty as Mamma Roma’s, but My Brother Is an Only Child eschews the grit and pathos of Pasolini’s post-neorealist classics, settling instead for cuteness.
- 108 min
- Daniele Luchetti
- Daniele Luchetti, Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli
- Elio Germano, Riccardo Scamarcio, Angela Finocchiaro, Massimo Popolizio, Alba Rohrwacher, Luca Zingaretti, Anna Bonaiuto, Diane Fleri, Ascanio Celestini, Vittorio Emanuele Propizio
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