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THREE BROTHERS

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 9, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: The boutique label Arrow has reissued on Blu-ray this Italian comedy-drama that has perhaps been forgotten, but which deserves a second look. Here’s my June 1, 1982, Deseret News review.

“Three Brothers” is one of those little foreign films that occasionally slips into town unnoticed (and often at the Utah 3), plays one week only, then just as quietly slips out of town again.

But in this case it is a thoroughly engrossing film that should not be overlooked by those in the market for a film-painting that genuinely qualifies as art.

Francesco Rosi has captured the feelings of all of us, at one time or another, and filled his canvas with visual images that will enthrall and ideas that will provoke deep thought.

The distinguished French actor Philippe Noiret (“Dear Inspector”) stars as the older of the three brothers, a judge in the north of Italy who is trying to decide whether he should take on a serious case involving a terrorist. His wife hopes he will not, for fear of his life.

The second brother, played by Vittorio Mezzogiorno, is a teacher in a juvenile institution, an idealist who is plagued with nightmares that contrast with his outlook on life.

The third, Michele Placido, is a disillusioned blue-collar worker who has been involved in unionizing, and has felt the prejudice of those in management. He is also having some marital troubles.

     

      Philip Noiret, left, Michele Placido, 'Three Brothers'

They are all notified in their individual lives that their mother has died, so, for the first time in many years, they come together, to help their father bury their mother.

The three are so self-involved that they are hardly aware of each other’s presence, but gradually they come to learn something from one another.

The film is filled with flashbacks from each, and their father, who, in some particularly delightful moments, remembers vividly his early days with his beloved wife.

Rosi has painted an often dark picture of human existence, but beneath it all is the struggle for something better.

There are all kinds of problems brought up here, and some of them are explored more than others. But solutions are not what this film is after. It’s hope.

     

The fact of hope, the desire for hope — the knowledge that somehow, some way, the future holds something better, whatever it may be. That desire and need are not the same, but love and trust are necessary.

The visuals are also an integral part of the story. In Southern Italy, where the majority of the film takes place, there are some wonderful old buildings and streets that have so much history in them that they tell as much of the story as dialogue.

Rated PG for some violence and a brief, non-explicit sex scene, “Three Brothers” is an excellent example of European storytelling, with heart and depth. The film is in Italian with English subtitles.