- Directed by Simone Bozzelli -
Simone Bozzelli’s short film, ‘My Brother’, is a careful exploration of the relationship between two brothers which are more or less forced to live with one another in the same room. With their mother working long hours caring for elderly people, Stefano, a 23-year old young man has to care for his younger brother, a 16-year old teenager suffering from a slight cognitive impairment. Tempers often explode as the younger Umberto relentlessly seeks contact of any kind with his brother.
Their frequent arguments stem from things as minor as who gets to sleep in the top bunk bed, and get to the point where Umberto is happy to behave in a way that is certain to earn Stefano’s disapproval – smoking his cigarette, for instance – just to get some sort of reaction. By the latter stages, their spars even degenerate into something reminiscent of sexual tension, which raises many questions in the mind of the viewer as the credits roll. Considering Umberto’s quest for affirmation and his habit of mirroring Stefano’s actions, establishing the causal report for his behaviour is a significantly more complex task than simply pinning it on his affliction.
The two actors play their roles with great finesse, successfully giving life to their characters, whether it is Umberto’s subtly pathological behaviour or Stefano’s disinterested, detached manner. Stylistically, the numerous close-ups utilized seek to exploit the expressiveness of these non-verbal cues which are so well represented. Various shots of the two brothers, who are ether facing each other, back to back or alongside one another, establish a sense of what is almost claustrophobia, a very static environment nonetheless. This goes well with the overall atmosphere of the film, especially relating to the little brother’s psyche.
The best thing about ‘My Brother’ is that it never shoves its ideas or hardwired messages down the audience’s throat, rather opting for an array of subtle hints which might or might not be observable at a first viewing. Simone Bozzelli’s project is a thoughtful, well-constructed and intelligent film that manages to constantly ooze a sense of unease, with the resulting raised questions up for interpretation.