Running Time: 100 mins
Rated: Rated M (moderate themes and violence, coarse language and sexual references)
In the early 1960s, a number of Italian directors, some of them soon to be big names like Bolognini and Pasolini, made films about disaffected young men in and around Rome (Il Bell' Antonio, Accatone). This was the non-dolce vita Roman experience of the times. These directors were the inheritors of the neo-realistic style of the post war period but which delved into the poverty, the politics, the sordidness of the lives of the people they portrayed. These films serve as a contemporary mirror of the times.
Forty years later, Italian directors are still fascinated by stories and characters from these backgrounds. This is certainly true of Daniele Luchetti's film My Brother is an Only Child. It was co-written by a prolific team, Stefano Rulli and Sandro Petraglia whose impressive credits include The Best of Youth, Rosi's La Tregua and two strong films for Gianni Amelio, Il Ladro di Bambini and Le Chiavi di Casa). This film has proven popular at the Italian box-office.
It opens in 1962 (actually the year that the Second Vatican Council opened). It has a church and anti-church beginning typical of the times: the younger brother goes to a junior seminary, his parents proud of him and happy to have a priest in the family; his older brother is opposed, taunts him, leaves him a photo of an actress and the teenager recognises he will have sexuality problems and leaves the seminary. Apart from holy pictures on walls, that is the end of the presence of the Church in these young men's lives.
What inspires one is the Communist party, Italian style, full of sound and fury but idealistically wanting to signify something - brought to a head in the film in the student revolutions of 1968 and a scene of the occupation of the Rome conservatory and a performance of Beethoven's Song of Joy with new lyrics which begin with, 'Mao, Lenin, Stalin