Monday, 4 August 2014

Mio fratello è figlio unico (2007)

Mio fratello è figlio unica is the intriguing title of this Italian movie, it means: my brother is an only child.

Antonio Benassi is called Accio (bully) by his whole family. His family is quite poor, father works in the factory and mother struggles to make ends meet. They live in a house that is almost falling apart.

It is 1962 and Accio is attending seminary, although he asks too many critical questions so they send him home. He has an older brother Manrico, who is his mother’s favorite and an elder sister Violetta who studies the violin.

His parents promise Accio he can study Latin if his grades are high enough, but when he has high grades he is still not allowed to study. He has to learn a trade, because later he has to support a family. Learning a trade can do that, studying Latin cannot. 

Accio feels unappreciated and misunderstood by his family, but luckily there is his friend, market salesman Mario who tells him about Mussolini and how he helped the poor. Accio wants to believe this and also wants to go against his brother and sister, who are communists. So he becomes a fascist, although asking critical questions is something he keeps up.

There are often violent rows between Accio and Manrico, but when Accio learns the fascists want to set fire to Manrico’s car, he prevents it, after all, Manrico is still his brother.
Manrico has a girlfriend, Francesca, and Accio is also in love with her. They become good friends, despite their political differences.
Accio leaves the fascists, and joins the communists, but when he realizes they also only talk he leaves politics behind.

In the meantime Manrico went to the north of Italy and became involved with revolutionaries, but this goes horribly wrong. Finally it is Accio who has to come to the rescue and take care of his family and he does so in a very practical manner.  

Mio fratello è figlio unico is based on a book by Antonio Pennacchi, Il fasciocommunista. (English title: My brother is an only child)
Accio (l) and Manrico (r)
This is one of my favorite Italian films. Elio Germano plays Accio and he does this very well, he plays the hothead so that you understand his choices and you do like him.
The movie is set in an interesting period in Italian history, although not everyrhing is explicit. Manrico gets involved with a group of revolutionaries, probably the Red Brigades, but this name is not mentioned.
There are often very funny scenes, and the ending is wonderful. I love Italian films in general, but this is one I keep watching over and over.

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