The Family Friend
(L’amico di famiglia)
With Giacomo Rizzo, Laura Chiatti, Gigi Angelillo.
Italy/France, 2006, 35mm, color, 102 min.
Italian with English subtitles.
One of Sorrentino’s darkest films, The Family Friend is a trenchant portrait of an absolute antihero: an elderly tailor and obsessive moneylender driven by termite desires to ruthlessly exploit everyone who comes his way, all the while professing to be their benevolent savior. Sorrentino makes clear the inspiration of Fellini and commedia dell’arte through the film’s erotic oneirism and bold use of grotesque caricature. Embracing fragmentary narrative to enter, but never fully reveal, the inner mind of the monstrous loan shark, The Family Friend’s unlikely Beauty and the Beast story is offered as a kind of psychoanalytic allegory that presciently describes the betrayed trust and insecurity driving the turn, in Europe and elsewhere, towards authoritarian father figures and neofascism.