Family Diary

The revelation of our recent Marcello Mastroianni tribute, Family Diary haunts long after for the actor's extraordinary tenderness in what has to be the most ruthless, poetic explication of the helplessness of love. Two brothers, raised apart, come to know each other as adults; but one will be dead by the age of 27. The film is based on the autobiographical novel by Vasco Pratolini, and manages to obtain the author's detailed, almost Proustian narrative style, told in flashbacks, while consistently honing its cinematic vision. Mastroianni's Enrico, raised in poverty by his grandmother (Sylvie, in a moving cameo), now is a politically crusty, frequently down-and-out newspaper reporter in Rome. His brother Lorenzo (Jacques Perrin) has run away from his overprotective guardian (a proud butler-not exactly the prince and the pauper) and will live parallel years of struggle, largely unrealized by his brother, before illness claims him in one of the cinema's longest good-byes. Zurlini's art background is nowhere more apparent than in this beautiful film that unfolds against painterly backdrops, shot on location in the deserted piazzas and cobblestone canyons where the vacated heart finds its architectural counterpart. (JB)

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