Rocco and His Brothers
Director: Luchino Visconti / Script: Luchino Visconti, Suso Cecchi D’Amico (& others) / DP: Giuseppe Rotunno / Editor: Mario Serandrei / Music: Nino Rota
Cast: Alain Delon / Renato Salvatori / Annie Girardot / Katina Paxinou / Claudia Cardinale
A little mouse with boxing gloves on? Well I declare!
Atale of relocation. Of country mice in a city of tomcats. A family that, having been jolted out of its rural village by hardship, needs to reinvent itself in order to survive; and fast… ‘Cos it turns out, that Milan’s FULL of cats.
The elder son (Renato Salvatori as Simone) boxes some way to glory, but has two left feet when it comes to navigating the Game of Life, so loses his way at the whim of a two-faced promoter. Alain Delon as younger brother Rocco, follows in his (meandering) tracks, but finds more success once he can parlay his self-loathing into externalised violence (Delon’s cheekbones are lethal). Other siblings make do with jobs at the local Alfa Romeo factory or, or… Then again, this isn’t their story.
But the biggest predator-Queen of all is Nadia (Annie Girardot). A local good-time-girl who’s following her own path out of the gutter, she’s the protagonist that gets things moving towards an inevitable, tragic end.
Visconti scaled new heights here, using this material to comment on Italy’s post-war social upheaval. It’s treading a similar path in some ways to Chabrol’s Les Cousins, except Visconti gives us a whole family to chase, rather than Gerard Blain’s bemused, lonely Charles. The results are broadly similar, too, but this is one of those tales that’ll run and run.
After all, it’s a tale of life. Of love. Of striving against the odds, only to have those dreams dashed; dragged back down by the very circumstances we sought to leave behind.
Do what you like to me; I don’t care any more.