A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Family is home. Family should be there for you through good times and bad, and family members forgive one another for mistakes. Same with close friends. "A life without music is like a family without love." A mother's love is eternal.
Positive Role Models
Two grown siblings must overcome their differences and lingering animosity over past mistakes. A 50-year-old man has been living a nomad's life with no attachments. His sister, a mother to two, has to learn to let go of control and the stress involved with trying to maintain control over her grown kids, one of whom requires extra care due to mental illness. A recently deceased father and grandfather is remembered for both his positive impact and his damaging actions. A young woman is rude and cold to her mother. A man doesn't stay in contact with his kids from a first marriage.
The film takes place in Italy. A main character, a young man, has a mental illness that requires medication for depression and schizophrenia and a lot of care and attention from his family members. He talks to an extraterrestrial (in his head) and he's a talented musician with an encyclopedic knowledge of classical music. A friend notices that he responds well to his uncle, who doesn't treat him like he's ill, unlike his mother and sister.
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Violence & Scariness
Sebastian has a breakdown at the beach and tries to hit his uncle; in another scene, he gets nervous and flees, causing an accident. Someone is hit by a car and is then seen in critical care in the hospital. The film opens at the funeral of an older man.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A daughter puts her mother's picture on a dating site; the mom enjoys reading comments on it later and begins flirting with a man, prompting the daughter to make a date for her without asking. Both a man and a woman are shown naked from behind and, from just above the groin, from the front. Nik brings home random women he meets at the beach. He has sex with an ex-girlfriend (a steamy scene, but no privates), who cheated on him. He seems to have done it for revenge. It's revealed that a man betrayed someone he loved by engaging in an affair with the person's fiancée.
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"F--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "d--k," "a--hole," "bastard," "balls," "idiotic," "moron," "God," "Jesus Christ." The film was reviewed in the original Italian with English subtitles.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A man jokingly offers his sister a joint in a professional setting. Adults drink wine and beer, and one adult character accuses another of needing more than one glass of wine each night. Sebastian needs medication for depression and schizophrenia, but he's secretly stashing some of his pills. Nik hand-rolls cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that My Brother, My Sister is an Italian melodrama about two estranged siblings restarting their relationship and grappling with other issues of middle age. It tackles mature themes that won't likely resonate with younger audiences, like love, loss, betrayal, aging, and the stresses of parenting. Its message is ultimately that family bonds are essential in life and worth fighting for, including forgiving others their mistakes. One character is being treated for schizophrenia, and the film depicts the manifestation of that illness as well as the burden caring for him puts on the other family members. He has two breakdowns that involve the film's only violent scenes, a fight and a car accident that results in acute injury and hospitalization. The estranged brother is a bit of a womanizer, bringing women home for one-night stands. We see both him and one of his female lovers naked from the back and from just above the groin up in the front. A single sex scene is steamy but there are no private parts shown. Adults smoke and drink, and language in the English subtitles of this Italian-language film includes "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "d--k," "a--hole," "bastard," "balls," "idiotic," "moron," "God, "and "Jesus Christ." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Despite uneven opening and closing sequences, this family melodrama from Italy hits just enough emotionally genuine notes to make it an interesting character study. Middle-aged and older viewers will empathize with some of the issues the sibling duo faces in My Brother, My Sister, including accepting grown children on their own terms, facing the death of elderly parents, and making major life changes while there's still time to enjoy them. Well-acted and set in Rome, which is glimpsed occasionally in street scenes (including a few gratuitous Colosseum shots and a couple of attractive sequences set only to classical music), the film begins with a death and ends with a symbolic rebirth.
The shady color tones used throughout craft a mood, but the film doesn't wallow in darkness or get stuck in the initial anger of the brother and sister, reunited after many years by their difficult father's death. Claudia Pandolfi and Alessandro Preziosi play well to countertypes but also convey a genuine sibling bond. Francesco Caballo embodies Seba, who suffers from mental illness, with a subtle performance punctuated by hand gestures and unreadable glances. The only scenes that feel out of place are the arrival of the irreverent son at the opening funeral and an out-of-body experience toward the end. One tries too hard to introduce disorder and the other to wrap things up too neatly.
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