Ciao, Bro! (Film Review: “My Country”)

mycountryPOSTER

Two brothers who’ve never met – one in Chicago and the other in Rome – team up for a road trip to their father’s remote Italian village. It’s a semi-comical feast for the eyes & the soul. . . and of course the stomach.

SnapShot Plot

My Country was a darling of the indie film festival circuit in 2018, a veritable 1-man debut film by Chicago-based producer/writer/director/star Giancarlo Iannotta. Why am I emphasizing these credits off the bat? Because to appreciate this little gem, you must overlook some rough patches indicative of smaller budget productions and focus on what makes this movie special. So try to forgive the student-film look and feel of the first five minutes, because once the credits roll and the location switches to Italy, that’s when you can settle in and enjoy the ride.

The plot is simple: Luciano “Lucky” De Luca is a first generation Italian-American guy in Chicago whose dying father Vincenzo (born in the remote and picturesque region of Molise) confesses that during the war, he was in the Italian army and that he fathered a son with a woman he abandoned, never to see again. All he has is a baby photo and a name, Francesco Milvio. After clearing his conscience, Vincenzo dies, leaving Lucky with his ashes and a lifetime of questions. After a quick exercise in Facebook forensics, Francesco is found, a Rome-based attorney. Before you can say gelato, Lucky is sneaking around the bushes outside Francesco’s law offices until the two finally meet face to face. After much nagging from his wife, Francesco reluctantly agrees to take Lucky to their father’s hometown, picking up the young American in a classic Fiat 500 that barely fits both men, let alone Lucky’s suitcase. What follows is a funny yet poignant journey of discovery as the two strangers realize what connects them as brothers but also what sets them apart as men. They also get to see what a true Italian homecoming is all about.

 

 

Parting Shot

Molise figures heavily in the plot, selected because it is in fact the birthplace of Giancarlo Iannotta’s own father. After graduating from film school in his hometown of Chicago, in 2014 Iannotta packed up and moved to Rome for two years, to learn the language and explore his own roots. It’s there that he got the gem of the idea that would become the screenplay for My Country. Basic film tropes aside, we are reminded of other exhilarating travelogue movies, including Two for the Road, Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine and  – most recently – The Trip trio of comedic bromances, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.

Like great Italian street food, the message is clear: big budget doesn’t always mean quality . . . sometimes all you need is a tiny red Fiat 500, family, and a nice simple dish of gnocchi.

My Country is presently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnveS80wBfs

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