My Brother is an Only Child Daniele Luchetti

My Brother is an Only Child Daniele Luchetti
This is only one of a recent spate of Italian films forged in the upheavals of the ’60s and ’70s (others include The Best of Youth and Romanzo Criminale). But though it has a pretty decent hook, it never quite makes good on its promising premise of youthful ideologues quite similar in their unreasonableness. The hero is a young, unhappy working-class boy who stupidly embraces fascism as a means of gaining an identity. This puts him at odds with his older brother, a devoted communist who’s also kind of a jerk. The two boys get hung up on the same winsome girl, of course, and strangely, she has less of a position than the boys beyond standing around being pretty and reasonable. And as time grinds on, the elder sibling drifts closer and closer to hardcore radicalism. There’s the core of a good movie here, and scenes almost make good on its suggestions of politics being manipulated by personal agendas and vice versa. But most of the time, it’s just barely inadequate. Scenes seem pregnant with potential but haven’t been explored for maximum nuance; director Daniele Luchetti doesn’t go far enough with the material and the film is often inert as a result. Many have accused this of being a happy-face nostalgia movie without sharp edges but it’s something else: there are sharp edges but viewed across the room with a bit of anxiety. The ending is a total cop-out designed to make you feel good about being neutral and complacent but the rest is simply a disappointment that with a little extra oomph might have really made the grade. (Seville)