A film of quiet reflection and strengthening resolve by the superb Italian director Francesco Rosi (Eboli, Salvatore Giuliano). The three brothers of the title are a judge (Noiret), who lives in Rome, a teacher (Mezzogiorno) of maladjusted children in Naples and, the youngest, a worker and trade unionist (Placido) in a Turin car factory. These strongly contrasting siblings have returned to their home village in the south for their mother’s funeral. Obviously an allegory, each brother represents a different strand of Italian society in the 1980s. Schematic and rather ponderous as the film often is, the strong performances and Rosi’s careful direction move it into the area of Italian realism – Rosi’s deep-focus camera work in particular spins a vivid, lyrical drama of regret and rebirth.

As the sons and their peasant father (the splendidly craggy Vanel) reflect on their present and past lives, the film becomes a meditation on different generations and classes seeking common ground. There is a particularly moving scene between the old man and his little granddaughter, which shows the director at his most sensitive, yet unsentimental, best.

Film Four

Presented in cooperation with the Italian Cultural Institute