The Family Friend (2006)

The Family Friend (2006)

Released: 2006
Genre: Drama, Genre
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Gigi Angelillo, Laura Chiatti, Giacomo Rizzo, ,
Run time: 102 min
IMDb: 7.1/10
Country: Italy
Views: 20470

Synopsis

Storyline:
Geremia, an aging tailor/money lender, is a repulsive, mean, stingy man who lives alone in his shabby house with his scornful, bedridden mother. He has a morbid, obsessive relationship with money and he uses it to insinuate himself into other people’s affairs, pretending to be the “family friend”. One day he is asked by a man to lend him money for the wedding of Rosalba, his daughter. Geremia falls in love at first sight with the bewitching creature and and soon indulges in a “beauty and the beast” relationship…
Written by
Guy Bellinger
User Reviews: This film is not the great piece of cinema many critics/ viewers seem to think it is or want it to be. It has the occasional effective moment/ sequence, and the use of sub-bass was quite original and evocative in the sound mix. However, it’s essentially trying to be an art-house film with enough mainstream/generic or light-hearted moments to appeal to your average non-art-house-watching, can’t-handle-it-too-grim-or-arty cinema goer. Therefore, it’s hugely flawed. It’s not really that dark, for instance, despite a bit of dark posturing, and the more likable/ morally "okay" characters win out in the film’s irritatingly moral conclusion. The bonding between the bingo-playing old bat and the cowboy sidekick was almost sickening, and was completely unnecessary if the film wanted to maintain a vaguely black/amoral tone (which it did initially appear to be striving for). I personally find the Coen brother’s work to combine humour and a an enjoyably surreal darkness far more effectively, and to maintain a more amoral tone. It does not bare comparison to Fellini at all, for one thing there’s none of that crazy visual bravura in the mis-en-scene here, and most of time and there’s a deeply middle-brow quality to narrative proceedings. Unlike the great Italian films of 60s/ 70s (Visconti, Antonioni etc) the film is quite uninterestingly shot most of the time, with an overuse of extreme close-ups and close-ups, and with a very standard sense of pace in the editing. To be honest, even Dario Argento is far more visually exciting.

The inclusion of the thriller plot towards the end of film simply does not work that well, and feels contrived and somewhat unengaging: the film suddenly decides it no longer wishes to be a slightly arty character-study of a despicable old money lender and tries to be David Mamet to get the audience "on the edge of their seats" – it had the opposite effect for me ultimately. The supporting characters are rubbish – the cowboy friend is like something out of a bad "quirky" short film and the super model girl has no *beep* personality at all… The old woman who’s addicted to bingo? God, it’s almost Father Ted territory and without the madcap humour or silliness to make such stereotypes genuinely funny.

Some of the music was quite well-used however, and it is still better than another moving/ funny film about the Holocaust or films about small boys and their relationships with wise old men who work in cinemas.

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