It has been a long time since the two siblings Nikola (Alessandro Preziosi) and Tesla (Claudia Pandolfi) have seen the last time. The relationship between the two has been difficult for many years. And if it weren’t for the death of their father, it probably would have stayed that way. But now they can’t do anything else, because in his last will and testament he stipulated that the two of them should share the house. Tesla’s enthusiasm is hard to contain, now having to have her carefree chaos brother around all the time. Above all, she is driven by concern for her son Sebastiano, who suffers from schizophrenia (Francesco Cavallo) whom she wants to protect at all costs. Their daughter Carolina (Ludovica Martino) in turn is quite happy to have now found an occasion to finally move out of home ..
The motif of the prodigal son coming home again may certainly not be entirely new. However, it still enjoys great popularity in movies and finds its application in a variety of ways, including the version "lost daughter". Often this is accompanied by the death of a family member (Manchester by the Sea) or death is at least imminent (Back Home), which leads to at least an unplanned, often unwanted homecoming. If in the Italian Netflix-Film My brother, my sister the estranged Nik encounters his family again, then that means business as usual for the time being. At least for the audience, which has seen similar stories quite often before.
Whereby director and screenwriter Roberto Capucci has already tried quite a bit to get away at least a little bit from this worn-out blueprint. For example, he relies on the greatest possible contrast between the two siblings. While Nik is an irresponsible free spirit who cares about little, she’s a dogged control freak who lives in a world of memos. That this is not quite harmonized, especially under one roof, that is clear. At least at first, you might think that My brother, my sister is one of those comedies in which these constant frictions are meant to make the audience laugh.
An illness as means and end
In part this is certainly the case, especially since both characters are quite a bit overdrawn. This is sometimes close to a caricature. All in all, the film is predominantly a drama. At the center of this is young Sebastiano, who is so unfit for life that he is locked in a room by his mother. Because only there it is safe – so their conviction. My brother, my sister is not very convincing at this point. Here, too, people like to exaggerate and really lay it on thick. Moreover, somehow schizophrenia and autism are thrown together, without a clear picture emerging. Sebastiano is more a collection of disorders than an actual human being.
Anyway, with My brother, my sister the impression that the adolescent’s illness is somewhat abused to tell the real story – the one between the two siblings. Sebastiano, who immediately seeks access to his uncle, becomes a link after Nik and Tesla themselves fail to get it together. It’s already somewhat questionable as a principle. The result of this approach is also somewhat ambiguous. On the one hand, there are undoubtedly some beautiful scenes, when the characters slowly find themselves after many difficult years and there was at least a perspective of a common life again.
Bizarre final spurt
But that was obviously not enough for Capucci. What is not overly profound over longer stretches, but still somehow pleasing, is completely derailed in the last meters. So later we learn the reason for the estrangement between them, which is bullshit to say the least. And then there’s the bizarre ending, which was obviously meant to be quite tear-jerking. This is not only manipulative in a brazen way. It also doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie. Of course, one can overlook all that. If you just feel the need for an emotional story again, you’ll find it in My brother, my sister a mixture of feel-good entertainment and tragedy. Absolutely necessary would have been the meeting with this prodigal son, however, not.
OT: "Mio fratello mia sorella"
Director: Roberto Capucci
Script: Roberto Capucci
Music: Valerio Calisse
Camera: Andrea Arnone
Cast: Alessandro Preziosi, Claudia Pandolfi, Ludovica Martino, Francesco Cavallo, Stella Egitto, Caterina Murino
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