Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Three Brothers [dir. Francesco Rosi]

Last night I watched Three Brothers (3B) by Francesco Rosi on the blu-ray from Arrow.

The previous film by Rosi I'd seen - Salvatore Giuliano - was utterly brilliant, and so this was a blind-buy. While certain elements between the two are common, most notably the shifts in narrative chronology and use of flashbacks, they are very different in nature. SG was an uncompromising and objective portrayal of a person once considered a rebel hero and later a terrorist, based on his affiliations. It was shot in a quasi-documentary gritty B&W (albeit with stylish compositions akin to film noir) - as I recall now Rosi also made the not as brilliant but still interesting political thriller Hands over the City (HotC).

3B is a more intimate and nostalgic film. At the start of the film the titular brothers are informed by their father of their mother's death and come down to attend the funeral. The eldest Rafaelle (stably married) is a judge working high-level cases where he receives death threats, middle brother Rocco (a bachelor) works for an orphanage / correction home while the youngest Nicola (separated, with a little girl) is a rebellious blue-collar worker that is willing to retaliate hard against oppressive management. Once the brothers meet at their family home in the village, the film looks at the differences in their position and personal outlook, while also chewing over how distanced they are from each other and their old-world father who has little to live for after his wife's demise. In pivotal scenes the brothers argue and counter each others' position. Rosi's social concerns show but not in the direct and angry manner seen in SG or HotC. A good part of the film has a resigned and languid atmosphere, and the rhythm of village life - the dreamy sun-kissed country vistas (DoP Pasqualino De Santis) convey a lot of that. Piero Piccioni's score is IMO overwhelming and melodramatic, with explicit spoon-feeding about the tone of a scene.
Arrow's blu-ray gives a handsome job of the film. I thought the video presentation looked very healthy. The mono audio track is good, albeit with the caveats of post-dubbing, a common practice in Italian movies, especially those having multi-national casts (in this case French actors Charles Vanel and Philippe Noiret). Haven't yet gone through the extras, but there's an hour-plus audio interview with Rosi (and my copy came with a booklet, yay).

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