This vivacious Italian drama from Daniele Luchetti benefits highly from its character interaction in making the political and personal coalesce with pungent realism.
My Brother Is An Only Child (in Italian with English subtitles) immerses one in the Benassi family in 1960s Italy who hopes from the city council to be moved to a more structurally sound home.
Luchetti focuses his peculiar, yet riveting picture on the family's two brothers, Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) and Accio (Elio Germano).
Manrico doesn't like to complicate things and is adored by his parents, while Accio is high-strung and rather on the subversive side (his name has a mean-spirited connotation).
One gets a sense of the working-class environment as the brothers find themselves on opposite sides of Italy's grasp by the communists and fascists.
Plenty of wit and affection, with some a bit bombastic and broad, seems to drive the way the Benassis go about their business. In this post-war period, the family is split like their country, which invites some trouble. Especially, as Accio has more than a crush on Francesca (Diane Fleri), who happens to be a close friend of Manrico.
The narrative, co-written by Luchetti, chronicles many ups and downs from the political and community tensions, besides nuances clashing with personal choices.
The potpourri of incident and character gradually takes on more interest even as it all gets a bit thorny, notably how some gravitate towards different tenets with ease. Germano creates a portrait, partially filled with brashness and passion, which goes a long way to making the emotion more fulfilling.
My Brother Is An Only Child may not find its footing for less discerning audiences, but it proceeds with resolve and becomes a wrenching look at something more than sibling rivalry.