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Pater familias (2003)

After ten years in jail, Matteo, returns home in order to sign some legal papers tied to the imminent death of his father. But the real reason Matteo returns is to face the ghosts of his ... See full summary »



(novel), (story and screenplay) | 1 more credit »
5 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Luigi Jacuzio ...
Federica Bonavolontà ...
Francesco Pirozzi ...
Domenico Balsamo ...
Michelangelo Dalisi ...
Ferdinando Triola ...
Carlo Triola ...
Antonella Migliore ...
Renata Brando ...
Figlia di Rosa
Sergio Solli ...
Padre di Rosa
Marina Suma ...
Madre di Rosa
Italo Celoro ...
Don Antonio
Lucia Ragni ...

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After ten years in jail, Matteo, returns home in order to sign some legal papers tied to the imminent death of his father. But the real reason Matteo returns is to face the ghosts of his past and to relive the episodes that landed him in prison. Written by nicheflix.com

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Release Date:

14 March 2003 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Ojciec rodziny  »

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User Reviews

One of the best films of the era, a tour de force return of the spirit of Pasolini
2 March 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The best way to sum up this film is this: If Pasolini had gone through a "Cubist Period," this is the film he would have made. Far from not understanding the subversion of linearity, this film masterfully squares linearity. In other words, it is remarkably easy to make the story go forward with a series of flash backs. That is a simple 1-2 structure. This film goes forward, flashes back, then flashes forward but changing the point of viewing of the past events--all of which are leading up to the present.

If that sounds complicated, the plot delivers it clearly but in a way that demands the audience to think about the relationship between time and point of view.

The film is a relentless examination of the pathology of Southern Italian underclass culture--hence its evocative sense of Pasolini. It centers around boys turning into men, but doomed because the men in their lives are completely dysfunctional--the men have never grown up, they only think they have. Like Pasolini, the underclass is not on display for the middle-class to condemn: that all the characters are doomed is tragic, and indicts all of Italian culture, not the underclass itself. Clearly, however, it also avoids romanticizing the underclass (nobody could accuse this film of romanticizing the underclass).

It is a shocking film in many respects. The utter violence and dysfunction of this subculture and its enabling by the socialist state is troubling to say the least. The representation of contemporary religious life also comes as a bit of a shock. Especially in Italy, where religious communities are more readily able to cling to the traditional, Pre-Vatican II mode, a film representing a contemporary nun involved in the work of social justice is a unique turn. Further, it prevents the film from slipping into absolute hopelessness and depressiveness. Anyone can make a depressing and hopeless narrative--either about society or existence--call it a "confrontation of bourgeois tastes" and expect art-house accolades. This film does not take that route. Instead it compels the viewer to follow its probing investigation because it holds out the promise of hope. Perhaps there is finally a film-maker who has read Ernst Bloch.

That the film ends with a howl of hopeless protest does not so much function to conclude that all is lost, but rather, to suggest the point of collapse for this sub-culture and the dominant patriarchal culture which only fleetingly attends to it.

Not to be considered a follow up for "Cinema Paradiso," "Mediterraneo," or "Il Postino." Neither is it a good date film, but it is a very compelling film and a must see for anyone interested in Italian Cinema.

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