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MY BROTHER IS AN ONLY CHILD ('Mio fratello è figlio unico') is a title that may confuse the casual movie viewer, but it is an apt summation of the rigorous story that this excellent Italian film by Danielle Luchetti (adapted from a novel by Antonio Pennacchi) represents - the coming of age of two brothers in the confusing and turbulent 1960's and 1970's in Italy. While the film deals with the myriad political factions that disrupted life especially among the students of that era, the main focus of the story is the indomitable brotherly love that bonds the two main characters.

Accio Benano (Vittorrio Emanuele Popizo) as a child is a mischief maker who has entered seminary to become a priest, but his innate search for truth and meaning soon finds him returning home to his little family in a Mussolini-fabricated town called Latina, a village built on promises of communal well-being (a housing project was built but the poor villagers are refused access to it), but languishes in the poverty of lost hopes and deflated spirits. Accio's father, mother, younger sister and older brother Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) are making ends meet, but are frustrated with the political oppression of the working class. Time passes and the older Accio (Elio Germano) comes under the influence of Mussolini's 'idealism' with the tutelage of his older friend Mario (Luca Zingaretti) and embraces Fascism while Manrico has aligned with the communists, and it is this dichotomy of belief that sets Accio apart from his brother as well as his family who are communist sympathizers. Accio's personality places him in harms way with the law, with women (he has longings for the women in both Mario's and Manrico's lives), and ultimately with turns of events that threaten to pit brother against brother. The resolution of these conflicts makes for a fascinating study of familial ties, brotherly love, and a keenly observed sociopolitical history of Italy that is as enlightening as it is entertaining.

While Germano and Scamarcio are the obvious stars of this well acted film, the supporting cast (including such fine actors as Angela Finocchiaro, Massimo Popolizio, Alba Rohrwacher, Anna Bonaiuto, and Diane Fleri) is uniformly strong. This epic film demands full attention to the script (Italian with English subtitles) to follow the various political differences, but the tenor of the film is one of the excitement and concomitant love of two brothers coming of age in the best Italian style! It is a joy to watch and a lesson in history about which we should all be aware. Grady Harp, August 08
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on March 22, 2009
Viewers would probably benefit by having a sense of Italy's history-- and the history of Italian cinema--to get a good grasp on the film. Otherwise, it may seem uneven and spotty. If you haven't already, I recommend watching Best of Youth, Fist in the Pocket, Bicycle Thief, Rocco and His Brothers, I'm Not Afraid and even Lina Wertmeuller's Swept Away to put this film in context.

Italian cinema has a tradition of basing their films on literature, classical drama, and political and intellectual concerns. As a cultural group, they are first to speak up about injustices of the status quo. Such is the case with Mio Fratello e'Unico Figlio ( My Brother is an Only Child).

It is a story of a family living on the outskirts of Rome. In the 60s and 70s things were pretty rural in the town of Latino; excitement resided elsewhere--Rome, for example. Within the family, there is the Communist brother Manrico; a fascist younger brother Accio; and a Christian Democrat father. The mother is work-worn and weary of living in government housing with walls that crack right before her eyes. The sister, a delicate thing, is the only member of the household who has privilege. She attends the classical high school and plays the cello in an orchestra. The family is a microcosm of Italy, with its disagreeing, often violently factious, parties crowded together in a small house.

Crowded they are. The film bombards viewer's senses with the bonds of intimacy and conflict within the family. Manrico and Accio fighting,for example. We hear their bones knocking against each other, the thud of a foot in the stomach. We see the anguish of the family as they walk down the road to the school house to confront the daughter's professor, who supposedly is taking advantage of the girl. There is religious artwork on every wall ; the eyes of Jesus watch everything that goes on. The harshly lit kitchen table where Accio does his homework. The kissing, the sex, the thinly closed doors behind which the brothers make love. Manrico and Accio love the same girl.

Francesca, the beautiful girl they love, is the daughter of an engineer at the local factory. She gets pregnant to Manrico and her family rejects her. They do not want a grandson who is the descendant of a worker,

The split and love between the brothers is the center of the story. Manrico, a charismatic, Communist organizer speaks up for the masses and wants to make art and culture available to the workers. Accio start out a black-shirt fascist who salutes il Duce, doses Communist cars with petrol and sets them afire.

But the good brother becomes the bad one and Accio the good brother. Accio points out to his fervent Communist brother that their father is the real worker. Manrico's politics push him to become a `kneecapper,' a leftist who shoots rich factory owners in the knees and then steals their briefcases full of money. "Can you imagine our father with a gun?" he asks.

Manrico goes underground and eventually his murderous deeds catch up with him. Accio ends up being the father to Manrico's toddler son and takes him to live in the crowded house back in Latino.

The meaning of the film's title is not clear until the very end.

Interwoven with the politics and family is the rawness of coming of age, of being a passionate teenager who has political ideals, a vision of the future, and a committed sense of right and wrong. European children grown up more quickly and are wiser, I think than our American children who are often victims of privilege.

Privilege: that's the big reason we do not make films like My Brother is an Only Child in America: American's prefer , both in the present and historically, to reinforce the privilege of our culture rather than look at issues such as the struggle of the masses and dissatisfaction of the status quo.

The Virgin Knows: an art theft thriller
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on April 9, 2010
This is a great movie, deep and surprising at the same time. In a way, it can be described as an utterly original coming of age movie, taking place in the complicated and often contradictory social-political context of Italy in the '60-'70s.
This movie is an excellent example of great contemporary italian cinema, check it out.
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on October 11, 2011
Luchetti's clever,funny movie mixes domestic and political confrontation in Italy's troubled 1960s and 70s, depicting the Romulus and Remus of politics of two brothers,in Latina,one of Mussilini's model towns.Handsome Manrico(Ricardo Scarmacio) pursuing communist beliefs,following his father into working in a factory,agitating against the oppression of the working class,later on the run.While youger,Accio(Elio Germano),going from a seminary,losing his beliefs,questioning his parents ,fighting his brother,finding himself the black sheep of the family,playing second fiddle to his brother,with whom he has a love-hate relationship,attracted to his brother's girlfriend,Franscesca,without acting upon it.Instead he gets into his school studies,then fascism through his mentor,a steet trader,with whose wife he has an affair.He turns against fascism when they set light to his brother's car.The parents are shewn being ripped off by the authorities who having promised them a new council house ,fail to deliver,making Germano act.Germano brings charisma and brilliant acting to his role,Scarmacio brings his own brooding good looks to his role.Two of the best young actors in Italy.
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on July 15, 2010
Based on the novel by Antonio Pennacci, "My Brother is an Only Child" is a tale of two brothers growing up in Italy in the turbulent 1960s and `70s. Though remarkably alike in disposition and temperament, the two siblings, nevertheless, find themselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Manrico (Riccardo Scamarrio), the older of the two, is a committed Communist who rallies the workers in his town to stand up for their rights. Accio (Elio Germano), his younger brother and also the narrator of the story, is a hardcore Fascist who venerates Mussolini and participates in violent protests against the Marxists. A hothead and a bully by nature, Accio (the name actually means "bully" in Italian) finds a convenient outlet for his rage and violence in the thuggery and strong arm tactics he and his fellow fascists use against their adversaries. Manrico and Accio have obviously had a tumultuous love-hate relationship their entire lives, and things get even more complicated when Accio falls in love with Manrico's girlfriend, Francesca. But each man must ultimately decide where his true loyalty finally lies - with family or with the ideological cause that moves and empowers him. This becomes an even more complex question when one of the brothers becomes increasingly disillusioned with the goals and tactics used by his side, while the other grows increasingly radicalized in his commitment to his.

Director Daniele Luchetti brings renewed life to the coming-of-age genre with his intense concentration on the sociopolitical elements of the story. It gets so bad between the two warring factions that even a performance of Beethoven becomes a pretext for bloodshed and violence. And the constant tussling between the two brothers - who can't seem to see eye-to-eye on anything except the girl they love - becomes a microcosmic reflection of the larger world around them.

Uniformly superb performances and naturalistic direction make this a complex and ultimately very moving study of brotherhood, family, maturity and commitment.
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on February 5, 2011
This movie is one of the best I have seen for a long time. Only italians are able to make movies where laugh and tears are always mixed, just like in the real world !
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on June 7, 2015
Something about this seems inane.....
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on October 3, 2015
Good Italian movie
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on January 10, 2012
Product purchased via USA and unable to be configured to Australian TV. Would like to have been advised of this prior to purchase. Will be returning item.
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on June 9, 2015
Enjoyed it.
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