London Film Festival 2012 – day nine: E Stato Il Figlio
Friday 19th October, 12.30pm – Odeon, West End
Sunday 21st October, 4.00pm – Curzon, Mayfair
It is a fine skill to produce a black comedy that balances humour with controversial issues at just the right level. The narratives of these films are usually offbeat along with an acting style to match. It Was The Son (E stato il figlio) has all the ingredients fit for a perfect black comedy.
Nicola Ciraulo (Toni Servillo) and his extended family live in one of the poorest suburbs of Palermo in Sicily. Their source of income derives from Nicola, his father (Benedetto Raneli), his only son Tancredi (Fabrizio Falco) and his cousin Massimo spending there days searching for metal at the local scrapyard. After his daughter Serenella (Alessia Zammitti) gets killed in the crossfire of a gangland shooting, the Ciraulo family are promised money, 220 million lire to be exact but before they are ‘legally’ allowed it, they waste no time being frivolous taking out loans with promises. Leaving a trail of disgruntled lenders in their wake, Nicola and his family fall deeper into what becomes an enjoyable catastrophe.
Nicola is the protagonist in a story told by a man (Alfredo Castro) who, while waiting at his post office, decides to tell this tale to whoever sits near and listens, think Forrest Gump. To begin with, it seems puzzling as to why director Sicilian-native Daniele Cipri decides to narrate this way. However, it allows for the characters (the Ciraulo family) to be distanced from reality and thus have construed morals that wouldn’t fit in a real society. The film travels at a fast pace but is careful to keep everybody on board as the performance of each and every character is right on point and the quick-witted comedy is perfectly timed.
A sub-plot involving Nicola and the relationship with his son Tancredi seems a little wayward in the first quarter of the film but eventually comes together by the time we arrive at the conclusion. Award-winning actor Toni Servillo is an absolute privilege to watch. He owns every scene with all the passion he can muster. He can only be described as a powerhouse that brings together all the characters that ultimately make-up a total gem of a comedy.
If you see one film this festival, go and laugh yourself silly with the Ciraulo family.
Read more reviews from the 56th London Film Festival here.
Watch the trailer here: