Rocco and His Brothers (1960)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, Family Drama, Urban Drama  |   Run Time - 160 min.  |   Countries - France, Italy  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Elbert Ventura

Italian master Luchino Visconti may have made his name as one of neorealism's forebears, but his greatest works are arguably the ones that came in the years after the movement's heyday. Fusing neorealist elements with grand gestures, Visconti created movies that were grim yet gorgeous, harshly realistic yet seductively lush. Rocco and His Brothers is a sterling representative of Visconti's singular artistry, a full-bodied melodrama that transforms the story of a provincial family that moves to the city into an epic tale of passion, jealousy, and betrayal. Split loosely into five chapters for each brother, the movie chronicles the life of the Parindo family, who move from rural southern Italy to Milan. As the title suggests, the movie spends much of its time with Rocco (Alain Delon), a saintly man with hopes of one day returning the family to their province. His demeanor contrasts with Simone's (Renato Salvatori), who goes from being the family's breadwinner to its ultimate shame. Painted with bold strokes and marked by inflamed passions, Rocco and His Brothers holds you in rapt attention despite its sprawling story. Visconti punctuates the Parondis' struggles with two harrowing scenes of ritualized violence that profoundly change the family and underscore the operatic determinism of Visconti's vision. The movie's visceral intensity is matched only by the elegance and intelligence of the mise-en-scène, with its fine compositions, graceful camera moves, and evocative black-and-white cinematography. A work of overpowering power and stark beauty, Rocco and His Brothers stands as a vivid masterpiece from one of cinema's great artists.