One of Nanni Loy’s best comedies, scathing, insightful, sentimental and bitterly political
Great performances from Nino Manfredi and Leslie Caron, in a story about what can happen to the institution of family in a world on the cusp of a revolution
One of Nanni Loy’s best films, a scathing and melancholic film about a world on the cusp of changing forever (1968 is just around the corner): with extraordinary insight, Il padre di famiglia depicts the crisis-hit traditional family unit, the building block of society that is helplessly being crushed between unexpected joys and frustrations. Loy and screenwriter Ruggero Maccari reassert themselves as first-rate observers of society in their creation of a comedy at once both bitterly political and sentimental, which does not hold back from denouncing the destruction caused to the urban fabric by the economic boom, making gibes at the Montessori Method, and depicting a certain sense of emptiness left behind by the rejection of “out-dated” ideologies. Nino Manfredi has rarely been so intense, and is accompanied by Leslie Caron, an actress who traverses the history of cinema, from classic Hollywood musicals to the auteurship cinema of Truffaut and Zanussi. Ugo Tognazzi is fantastic in the role of the anarchist, a role initially intended for Totò. However, the “prince of laughter” died a few days after shooting began and only appears in a brief funeral scene.
Architects Marco and Paola got married shortly after the war ended. Paola remains fascinated by her husband’s progressive ideals and his desire to fight the destruction of urban environments, however she is forced to quit her job so that she can take care of their three children. Marco has a lover. Paola is hospitalised following a nervous breakdown. In the end, the family unit will be sewn back together, however events will have left a permanent mark.