Daniele Luchetti: interview
Italian director Daniele Luchetti discusses his latest movie, 'My Brother Is An Only Child'
Your film has been compared to Marco Tullio Giordana’s ‘The Best Of Youth’. Are you a fan of the film?
‘When I read the book ‘Il Fasciocomunista’ [upon which this film is based], I discovered lots of interesting stuff. Firstly, there was the idea to tell a story about our history by looking at a family. The experience of being a fascist after the ’60s – not from the point of view of the ideology but autobiography – is very important. There are feelings inside and that’s interesting because, to a viewer, a fascist is more often seen as a monster than a human being. Also, because most of the directors and actors in Italy are left leaning, when there have been stories told about fascists, they were always just monsters, so the idea of trying to see the neo-fascist as a human being was a good idea.'
A lot of Italian cinema seems to be based on the brotherly dynamic and around the family. Why is that?
'Yes, that’s true. It’s because in our lives I think it’s important. The key of Italy is family because everything passes through the family. Every choice that you make in your life, you have to ask the family. And this is true and the cinema reflects this.'
One of the main themes of the film is the idea of young people becoming politicized. Do you think this is an issue that audiences can relate to now?
'People are very distanced from politics at the moment. They are very disillusioned. At the start of the ’60s, the younger generation in Italy were hopeful because of the idea of changing society, for better or for worse. After the '70s, something changed and I think that was the turning point. In the '80s, young people abandoned politics and the problem today is the fact that the political class is very old. The youngest competitor in the electoral campaign is over 50.'
The brothers in your film seem to know the political ramifications of their actions more than the current generation?
'Yes today is not like in the old days when they really knew which direction and which political parties to go for. Today it’s much more like a cloud behind you. This figure of the active student going behind political ideas exists but it’s not as clear as in the old days. They do not identify with a party.'
How did you cast the actors? Was Visconti's ‘Rocco and his Brothers’ a reference point?
'Not really, but I love that movie. I liked it when I first saw Elio Germano [who plays Accio in the film] because he was the opposite of the character as described in the script. In the script, he was described as a thug and not so intelligent, and when I saw Elio Germano I thought that seeing an intelligent guy playing a stupid character could be more interesting.'
What does the name ‘Accio’ mean?
'It is the diminutive version of a name. It’s really a nickname. My name is Daniele and my nickname is Daniellaccio. They call him just by the suffix. It doesn’t really mean anything.'
It’s a very funny film and comic direction is often difficult to get right. Was it a case of doing lots of takes to get the right one or was it quite a natural process?
'It’s a natural process, I think it is my way of seeing things and if you feel free in direction and mislead your characters in front of the camera, the comedy will come out. I think that comedy doesn’t destroy the tragic. In Italy, we do comedy starting from tragic topics.'
Can you explain the title?
'I was in the office with the producer and the producer said that we couldn’t come out until we have the title. I was in a rush, so I took my iPod, I pressed ‘shuffle’ and the first song that came up was ‘My Brother Is An Only Child.’ It’s a song from the '70s and I thought it was good title for the movie because they are two brothers, each of whom feels like he is the only brother.'
You’ve worked with Nanni Moretti in the past. What is your relationship with him?
'We did a couple of movies together. In my first one, "Domani accadrà", he was the producer and he played a small role. In "Il Portabosa", which was my third movie, he was involved not only as a producer but also as the leading actor. When we were young, we were very close friends, always talking about cinema, literature and politics. We are still friends, but we rarely have the chance to work together.'
Author: David Jenkins
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