Three Brothers (Tre fratelli)

Three Brothers

Everybody’s alive. Only Grandma is dead.

What is there to say about Francesco Rosi’s Three Brothers? Seriously, what is there to say; I can’t really seem to come up with anything. My usual research yielded almost nothing, and the fact that the editors removed this film from the latest edition in favor of another of Rosi’s films seemed to add to the superfluous nature of this one. My suspicions and hesitations about the film were proven right when I started it, and made slightly worse by the film’s construction; this was a well made film, with thought and care put into it. But, try as I might, I just couldn’t get into it, at all. There seemed to be no real end to be achieved with this film, nothing for the filmmakers to work toward; it was just them going through the motions of their everyday work, and this is the film that just happened to be the result of their aimless efforts.

It probably didn’t help much that the film had very little in terms of plot. It has backstory; three adult brothers are summoned by their father back to their hometown after their mother passes away. But in terms of things actually happening, there’s practically nothing to discuss; the film consists of the three brothers, their elderly father, and the daughter of one of the sons living their lives in the wake of the elderly mother’s death, reminiscing about their lives and imagining their possible futures. If that sounds wishy-washy to you, don’t worry; it’s not just you. It was because the film was so languid in direction that made it so hard to watch; because there was nothing to build toward, there was nothing to look forward to, no ending to wrap everything up, because there was no “everything” to wrap up. Thus, there was really no point in even watching this one; I can see why it was removed from the list, but how it got there to begin with is still a mystery to me. What confused me just as much was that, for a film that was so aimless, it was actually well put together. The film did have a few lovely shots, mostly through the choice of composition and the set pieces, and the camerawork was very well done. But all of that just fell by the wayside in lieu of the film’s emptiness in content.

As much as I wanted to give this one a fair shot, and I guess, in ways, I did, it just didn’t interest me at all. As the film continued, I grew more and more disassociated with it, and it was this that made this an especially difficult one to get through for me. It might’ve had some things to say about Italian society and politics when it was made, as one of the brothers is engaged in a labor dispute with his employers, but to someone who has no knowledge of Italian history or context to place any of what this film has to say into, it just didn’t matter to me. You might have a different outcome; a commentary on modern Italian culture and demographics might be right up your alley, or at the very least you may be more knowledgeable about that sort of thing than I am, and can thus get more out of this film than I did. But I’m not that, and this, to me, was nothing more than another box to tick off in my checklist.

Arbitrary Rating: 6/10

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