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Three Brothers

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Three Brothers is a captivating drama, directed by prominent Italian filmmaker Francesco Rosi. Released in 1981, the film was chosen as Italy's nomination for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for that year. The powerful performances by famed Philippe Noiret, Michele Placido, and Vittorio Mezzogiorno play a crucial role in breathing life into its characters and enriching director Rosi's vision.

Set in the beautiful yet desolate landscapes of Italy, Three Brothers tells the story of the reunion of three grown brothers who are summoned back to their ancestral home due to the death of their ailing mother. With distinct lifestyles and perspectives, the journey back home evokes a mix of emotions, memories, and introspection among the brothers.

The film introduces viewers to the eldest, Raffaele, enacted by Philippe Noiret, a judge living in Rome who is constantly living under the shadow of threats from the criminals he has prosecuted. He carries the weight of his important position and the dangers associated with it. This has alienated him from his family and has led him down a path where he has to rely on bodyguard protection.

The second brother, Rocco, played by Vittorio Mezzogiorno, is a counsellor for disadvantaged kids in Naples. He is compassionate and empathetic, working tirelessly in the hope of steering his troubled young wards away from a life of crime and towards a brighter future. However, despite his noble intentions, he is continually confronted with the harsh reality that his help might not be enough for some.

Nicola, the youngest brother, portrayed by Michele Placido, lives as a factory worker in Turin. His life is marked by labour unrest, disputes, and personal tragedies. Yet, amidst these struggles, he carries an unflagging spirit of resistance and hope for a better life.

In their return to their childhood home, the brothers are compelled to confront their past and what their lives have become due to their differing choices. Through their reunion, the director beautifully showcases rampant societal issues such as alienation, disillusionment, and the struggle for justice.

Another noteworthy element of the film is the character of the brothers' father, played wonderfully by Charles Vanel. His poignant longing for his deceased wife and the tension-filled relationships with his vastly different sons adds significant depth to the narrative.

The film artfully employs the concept of dream sequences where each brother, influenced by their present circumstances and past memories, visualise their mother in different roles; as comforter, a spirit, or a mediator. These collective dreams impact their self-realisation processes, being a source of inspiration and reflection about their individual lives.

Three Brothers explores the theme of brotherhood, family ties, and societal issues using cinematic sensitivity and thought-provoking dialogue. It prompts the viewer to dwell on their own relationships, choices, and values, making it a film that resonates on a deeply personal level.

Francesco Rosi's intricate storytelling, accompanied by exceptional performances from the lead actors, make the film a fantastic exploration of human bonds and societal issues. Director Rosi's penchant for addressing grand themes is clear in the movie, as he skilfully weaves together narratives exploring the consequences of various social ills on individual lives.

In the film, Rosi creatively uses the rural landscapes of Apulia and the bustling city streets to underpin the narrative's emotional tone, reflecting the clash between tradition and modernity that the characters experience.

Three Brothers is a cerebral film that successfully intermingles the personal and the political. Its notoriety is enhanced by its complicated characters, understated yet profound storytelling, and the stirring performances of its lead actors. Beautifully shot and poignantly narrated, Three Brothers is a timeless exploration of life's complexities and contradictions as understood through the prism of familial bonds.

Three Brothers is a Drama movie released in 1981. It has a runtime of 111 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.1..

Francesco Rosi
Philippe Noiret, Michele Placido
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