4
Add review

The Family Friend

As insistently stylish (both visually and aurally) as Paolo Sorrentino’s second feature ‘The Consequences of Love’ – and indeed his debut ‘L’uomo in piú’, sadly unreleased in the UK – this third outing is even more prone to sometimes mystifying narrative fragmentation than its predecessors. That said, it clearly remains the work of an ambitious, audacious and unusually gifted filmmaker.

Once again, it’s centred on an eminently dislikeable protagonist: 70-year-old Geremia de Geremei (Giacomo Rizzo), a physically repulsive small-town tailor and moneylender who still lives with his likewise grotesque mother, and whose profound avarice and repeated but wholly bogus claims to generosity are matched only by his ill-concealed lechery towards any young woman who crosses his path. Vignette by visually striking vignette, the film chronicles the deepening of Geremia’s understandably unrequited obsession with Rosalba (Laura Chiatti), the beauty-queen daughter of two of his client-victims , who have foolishly borrowed money for her imminent wedding – unrequited, that is, until he decides to move in once more for the kill… And it’s then that Sorrentino makes us pause awhile to remember that this lust-and-lucre-driven monster, who seems to have just one friend – well, a fishing partner, actually – in the unlikely form of would-be cowboy Gino (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), might be deserving of a little human sympathy.

Not unlike the Coens, Sorrentino creates a convincingly surreal world by having his ’Scope camera observe people, places and events from an unusually skewed angle; like them, too, he flirts with bad taste and revels in ingenious plotting, colourful but deft characterisation, fast, funny dialogue and initially enigmatic tableaux. He also tends at times to pack rather more allusions, quotations and ideas into his dense narrative than we can reasonably be expected to keep up with on a first viewing. Nonetheless, it’s a compellingly strange variation on the Beauty and the Beast theme, which succeeds as a subtle, intriguing study of fear and desire, attraction and repulsion, power and need. And like ‘Consequences…’, even though it lacks that film’s unexpectedly affecting redemptive conclusion, it certainly rewards repeat viewings – evidence that all the surface style is properly wrapped around ideas of substance.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday March 16 2007
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Screenwriter: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Giacomo Rizzo
Laura Chiatti
Fabrizio Bentivoglio
Gigi Angelillo
Clara Bindi
Barbara Valmorin
Marco Giallini
Alina Nedelea
Roberta Fiorentini
Elias Schilton
Lorenzo Gioielli
Valentina Ladovini
Giorgio Colangeli
Geremia Longobardo
Fabio Grossi
Barbara Scoppa
Lorenzo Sorrentino
Luisa De Santis
Lucia Ragni

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|4
1 person listening
Nikos

Put simply, the film is a real gem. Sorrentino creates a lyrical world of grotesque and beauty, and in it weaves a modern drama of common people which is intensely intriguing and realistic at the same time. And all this is conducted in a amazingly fresh fashion (e.g. check the soundtrack). It's a whole new style in poetic cinema!

Nikos

Put simply, the film is a real gem. Sorrentino creates a lyrical world of grotesque and beauty, and in it weaves a modern drama of common people which is intensely intriguing and realistic at the same time. And all this is conducted in a amazingly fresh fashion (e.g. check the soundtrack). It's a whole new style in poetic cinema!

Karl

A superbly rich thickly woven film. Totally engrossing and totally gross. The ultimate in Seedy, greedy and needy anti heroes. What a wonderful film. Lavish, quirky, questioning and ultimately moraly rewarding.

Karl

A superbly rich thickly woven film. Totally engrossing and totally gross. The ultimate in Seedy, greedy and needy anti heroes. What a wonderful film. Lavish, quirky, questioning and ultimately moraly rewarding.