(Translated from the Italian by Judith Harris)|
Perceptive script writer, he depicts with delicacy the individual soul and the environment, sometimes grotesque, sometimes decadent. In 1964 he directed Disordine, which foresaw Italyís exuberant plunge into the boom years. And he was the Hasburgic and witty director of the bitter Pane e Ciccolata (1974).
In this film, Manfrediís portrays a poor and honest immigrant who tries to insert himself into Swiss society utilizing every sort of humiliating subterfuge. Instead his residence permit is taken away, and he entrusts his savings to an Italian financier who then commits suicide; he briefly comforts a Greek woman with a son similarly in exile; he takes up residence inside a chicken coop with eight other Italians who are more chicken than men, and look on humbly at the Germans as if they were supermen, and perfect. The character Nino performs for an audence of workers in a shanty town along with two others dressed as women. He tries to dye his hair so as to look Nordic, but during a soccer match gives himself away by rooting for Italy instead of Switzerland. Deciding to return home, on the train he is disgusted by his fellow Italians and decides to stay on and fight. His odyssey becomes a search for human values and for affection, but on the way he encounters only those who suffer and like him are humiliated; he also finds amorphous guarantors of law and order. Humble and genteel, he sees himself as racially inferiority and is disposed to sacrifice his own identity if only to win a smile, a kind word. Instead he is continually betrayed by his own temperament: hi true moments of happiness come in the company of other unfortunates like himself, who find the strength to smile even in a shanty; or else, with his innate sense of friendship, in playing innocent games with a child who doesnít understand him; and he cannot help himself from shrieking with joy when Italy wins the big game.
The filmís message is entrusted to the extraordinary moral force of this simpleton, who has to begin all over again time after time, while knowing that he has no chance of success. Eternally a loser, the Don Quixote of the Southern Italian unemployed, he nevertheless does not fit into the stereotype of his passive and resigned ethnic group. His odyssey is marked by sudden abysses of melancholy (nostalgia for the home town, solitude, shame, another failure), but after all this there always comes a decisive revival, an impulse springing from the same great sense of humanity that encourages him to seek understanding, friendship and affection. In reality, he is in the jaws of contradiction: the world of the tall, healthy Germans is a world that is beautiful, clean, and rich, but he belongs to the world of the Italians, who are small, poor, dirty and ugly. He wishes to earn himself a place in the German world, but his feelings are solely for his own world. To pass from one to the other side would require a temperament that only those bred to it possess.
Brusati is also the director of such harsh and grotesque films as Il buon soldato (1983), a voyage to the city by a country youth who is to go into the military and along the way meets only brutality, to the point that he commits suicide in disgust. The film also depicts the lonely struggle of a Po Valley farm woman married to an idiotic husband.
Tenderly (1968) portrays the quarrelsome idyll of two restless youths; brilliant comedy on the lines of Capra and Hawks with amusing cameo performances.†
I Tulipani di Harlem (1970) A lonely office worker who has been saved from suicide falls in love with a teenager suffering from depression. To have him for her own, she burns his eyes and submits him to every sort of humiliation, pushing him to the verge of suicide. Sadism and the myth of total love, tender and cruel, Freudian in its accusing parents of the frustrations thrust upon their children.
Dimenticare Venezia (1979) is the story of two gay couples living in the same villa after the death of its own. They relive their past (think Proust, Freud) and try to free themselves of their memories and their voluntary imprisonment. A film of atmosphere, decorative and peopled by minor characters acutely described, in an atmosphere of turbulence, neurosis and the tenderness of the women in the house, isolated from the world.
The Good Soldier (1983) tells of the psychological destruction of a youth society sends off to be a soldier.
Commediografo acuto, delicato perlustratore di
ambienti e di animi, # grottesco, mepio e decadente, diresse nel '64 Disordine, profezia
del baratro in agguato per la corsa esuberante dell'Italia del "boom"; regista asburgico e nonsense
dell'amaro Pane e cioccolata (1974)
Regista dell'ancor più grottesco e duro Il buon soldato (1981), il viaggio in città di un ragazzo di campagno che deve fare il militare e che incontra sulla propria strada solo brutalità fino a suicidarsi dal disgusto e la lotta solitaria di una contadina padana avvizzita accanto a un marito idiota.
Tenderly (1968), idillio-bisticcio fra due giovani irrequieti, commedia brillante alla Capra/Hawks con tante comiche macchiette.
I Tulipani di Harlem (1970), un impiegato solitario salva dal suicidio e s'innamora di una sedicenne depressa che, per averlo tutto suo, gli brucia gli occhi e lo sottopone a ogni genere di umiliazioni fino a spingerlo sull'orlo del suicidio (sadismo e mitologia dell'amore totale, tenero e crudele, freudiano nell'accusare i genitori delle frustrazioni di cui soffrono i figli.
Dimenticare Venezia (1979), storia di due coppie di omosessuali che si trovano sole nella stessa villa dopo la morte della padrona, che rivivono il loro passato (Proust, Freud) e cercano di liberarsi dei loro ricordi e di quella volontaria prigionia, un film d'atmosfera, decorativo e popolato di personaggi minori descritti con cura, sovrastato dalle turbe, dalle nevrosi e dalle tenerezze delle donne di quella casa-isola nel mondo.
Il Buon Soldato (1983) racconta la distruzione psicologica di un ragazzo andato soldato da parte della società],