JWR Articles: Film/DVD - 18 Years Later (Director: Edoardo Leo) - January 14, 2011

18 Years Later

18 anni doppo

2.5 2.5
100 min.

Reviewed at the 2011 Palm Springs International Film Festival
Something old is new again

Nice try, but most of this road movie has been written/seen already. Director Eduardo Leo and Marco Bonini, with whom he also co-wrote the script (and a writing assist from Lucilla Schiaffino) engagingly turn the camera on themselves, starring as the brothers Morin (Mirko and Genziano, respectively).

The siblings haven’t seen, spoken or acknowledged each for eighteen years. The two of them survived a traffic accident in the resort town of Calabria—sadly, their mother died in the crash. The elder, Genziano, lives in London (with a marvellous mid-channel British accent) selling derivatives and bedding prostitutes (“I pay them so they will leave right after,” the practical workaholic confides). Mirko has picked up a debilitating stutter, a wife, Mirella (Sabrina Impacciatore, who—at the time of the travesty—falsely admitted that she’d captured the attention of both hormone-raging boys) and death-obsessed son even as his car repair business is three-months behind in the rent.

As the comedy confection opens, the father of the distant brothers leaves the planet but not without a final wish: using the painstakingly refurbished Morgan (the distraught widower opted to rebuild the death vehicle virtually from scratch), his sons are to take their dad’s ashes from the family home in Rome to their mother’s grave not far from her sudden demise.

Sounds promising, but anyone who has seen Last Stop for Paul (replace buds for bros and an urn full of their best pal) can pretty much predict the set pieces of travelling with a tub of the dearly departed (border crossings, strangers along the way, inevitable bickering, final reconciliation ...) or any number of features where an unexpected fellow traveller is full of mystery and possibly similar DNA to the principals. (Eugenia Constantini playing Cate most successfully fulfills this go-between character in the early rounds but is unconvincingly forced by the script to wax poetic without any previous preparation for such a major shift—with or without family ties.)

Sadly, most of Gianluca Misiti’s original score (largely employing piano and strings, the inevitable accordion and brushes) is as saccharine as the situations, succeeding only in bringing a musical smile in the change-of-travel-mode scenes

Towards the end, there’s an extremely hopeful moment that the artistic trust will deliver a knockout ending in the manner of Goodbye Solo. But when there’s “Comedy Tonight” the yuks come first, leaving the potential for a marvellous payoff to a long set-up drowning in its own shallow waves. No rematch required. JWR

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