Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
November 30, 2015
Though unnecessarily overlong for the kind of story it wants to tell and tending at times more towards soap-opera melodrama than neorealism, especially in a cathartic scene in the end, this is a spellbinding, moving and brutal film with a great score and a powerful social commentary.
Super Reviewer
½ April 7, 2008
Beautiful, brilliant, and brutal! A universal tale of man and his environment. This film can be viewed as a social commentary of Southern versus Northern Italy and five different adaptations to modernization. The five brothers are compared to the five fingers on a hand ~ joined, yet each posits alternatives to existence. Structurally, this is shown in the films chapters devoted to each son. Vincenzo elects the petit-bourgeouis mileu; Simone, the brother with initial promise, maladapts, descending to animalism; Rocco chooses sacrifice, holding steadfast to the family clan and nostalgia; Ciro reveals integration within Milan society; and, finally, Luca offers promise. Visconti masterfully builds tension and characterization with the cinematic details of lighting, music, and montage.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2009
the melodramatic tale of a close-knit family's move from the rural south to the big northern city of milan, where everything gets complicated. once again visconti managed to suck me into a 3 hour epic. the film has two things i generally enjoy, boxing and a young alain delon. delon is beautifully restrained right up until the final scene as the too-good-to-be-true rocco, who sacrifices everything, including the woman he loves, in an attempt to hold his family together. this is quite a different role for him, best known for his supercool criminal characters of the 60's. even better is renato salvatori as his amoral brother simone, and annie girardot as the prostitute who comes between them, leading ultimately to their destruction. there are a couple of really brutal scenes and the climax is overwrought to the point of opera. it's been said visconti cast the film with his dick but he draws gritty performances from his gorgeous actors and they are certainly lovely to watch :)
Super Reviewer
May 14, 2007
Rocco and his Brothers probably has some sort of socialist hidden meaning, I'm sure of it. But since I didn't see it, I'm writing from my point of view -I am warning you that there's much more to look for in here than what I might have found-. Rocco ei suoi fratelli centers on a family of five brothers and a widowed mother. They move up to Milan from middle Italy, leaving their homeland behind. At first they struggle to adapt to the conditions of the city, all the while maintaining themselves a close-knit traditional family. But as the second oldest son begins to develop a successful boxing career, the vices inherent to a citadin life begin to get in the way of their harmony, embodied by the callgirl (Annie Girardot) he takes as girlfriend. She brings dischord between brothers by falling later for Rocco, the second to youngest. He is all goodness, forgiveness, and fanatical about his family and his traditions, played very movingly by Alain Delon.
As the story unfolds, Simone -the boxer brother- begins to grow fatter and weary, whereas Rocco begins to shine in the same sport... this stirs up jealousy and fear, respectively. When Simone loses the prostitute's love, Rocco wins it, and a dangerous rivalry is thus born. Simone, the decrepit figure -the citadin, corrupted by Milan- becomes Rocco's -the saintly, the countryman- worst enemy. He beats Rocco unconscious after finding him with the girl one evening, and then proceeds to humiliate her in his presence... yet his little brother insists that he should give her up, send her back to Simone, and forgive his brutality. The forces of extreme evil and extreme goodness seem to collide in a series of dramatic sequences, and it is self-evident that neither is ideal. Rocco's irrational good nature harms, instead of protects, him and his loved ones; the same can be said, of course, of Simone's over-the-top machismo.
The real issue that Rocco and his Brothers touches on, to me, is finding the correct balance, the correct place to be, the correct sense of justice. Country or city? Whichever you choose, don't allow you environment to be stronger than your individuality, and so on. The film is thought-provoking but only on one hand, because it is also outstadingly raw, visceral, and earthy in the way that the best Neo-realist films are. So far, this is the highlight of Luchino Visconti's cinematography in my book.
Super Reviewer
½ August 30, 2010
Luchino Visconti's "Rocco and His Brothers" is classified as neo-realism but, given a director known for opulent period epics like "The Leopard" and "Senso," the film is much more cinematic than gritty works like "Open City" and "The Bicycle Thief." It also features actors with movie-star glamour rather than amateurs who just seem plucked off the street.

"Rocco" lasts almost three hours, but its central theme is simple: a family losing its innocence. The Parondi clan -- a mother plus sons Simone (Renato Salvatori), Rocco (Alain Delon), Ciro and Luca -- leaves a rural town in southern Italy and moves to Milan. They reunite with eldest son Vincenzo (Spiros Focas), who is engaged to ravishing Ginetta (a pre-stardom Claudia Cardinale, woefully underused).

The families of Vincenzo and Ginetta do not get along, but this is just the start of the Parondis' troubles. They have little money and squeeze themselves into a squalid flat, knowing they soon will be evicted when they can't afford the rent. We learn this is standard procedure for peasants entering the city -- the eviction is actually desirable because it qualifies them for government housing.

Once the family moves to a new apartment, the plot focuses on the brothers' struggles to get ahead. The film has explicitly titled sections for each of the brothers but, really, the story is about Rocco and Simone. The two mirror each other. Simone aspires to be a boxer, and falls in love with a charming prostitute named Nadia (Annie Girardot). Rocco follows his lead, both professionally and romantically. Simone broods and loses his way, while the more poetic, innocent Rocco finds ambivalent success. But tragedy lurks around the corner.

Visconti's direction is always stately and elegant, even when his settings are obviously decrepit. Content to let his characters carry the action, he's not a filmmaker like Fellini or Bertolucci whose roaming camerawork calls attention to itself. He does borrow Fellini stalwart Nino Rota to compose the score, however. Meanwhile, the young Delon and Girardot are especially affecting in their roles -- it's easy to see why both of them had lengthy careers (even if Delon's romantic turn is miles removed from the icy criminals that were his later signature).

Often cited as an influence on "The Godfather" for its operatic depiction of rival brothers, "Rocco and His Brothers" is a landmark saga that should not be missed.
Super Reviewer
September 8, 2009
This film examines family loyalties, industrialization of cities and the struggle to better one's self amid this economic surge.
Rocco has 3 other brothers and his anxious mother to care for since the death of his father. The decision is made to move them from a quiet country existence into Milan, Italy, with the hope that more money can be made in the city.
I thought this film was absorbing as Rocco earnestly struggles to provide a good life for his family. He puts all the weight on his shoulders despite the fact that his brothers are quite capable of helping out as well.
I became frustrated as Rocco plays the martyr for his womanizing, alcoholic older brother who keeps messing up while Rocco takes the fall.
To make matters worse they fall in love with the same woman. She is a prostitute who genuinely loves one brother, but becomes more like a pawn in their game than an object of affection. Tragically, this adds to her feelings of self-hatred.
Rocco does not seem to fit in this new world and the film captures how he is torn between loyalty to his family and being true to himself.
Don't worry I didn't give away the entire film, there's much to see in this 3 hour saga. It is a solid narrative. Beautiful actors and beautifully shot, I also found the film to be very satisfying on a visual level.
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2010
For the most part, I found it boring. As Alain Delon has made his way from not existing one day, to my favourite actor the next, I loved him in it. It was quite weird actually, when he cried, I actually had to hold back tears; despite me not caring at all about the events of the movie or the characters (and me being an unemotional robot in RL). He is just that awesome.
May 9, 2013
Neither neo-realist nor particularly artsy, Rocco might make for a fat, satisfying beach-read of a movie if only it weren't so convinced of its own magnitude.
Jason Derfuss
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2012
Heartbreaking and moving, Rocco and His Brothers paints a brilliant picture of a young man trying against all odds to keep his family together. Amid growing debt, scorned lovers, the bias against southerners in Northern Italy, and physical restraints, Rocco manages to keep his family together through personal sacrifice and compromise. This Neorealistic representation of life as a southerner in northern Italy grips the heart and ultimately forces you to feel compassion for Simone even as he murders Nadia.
½ March 25, 2012
There is a lot of great filmmaking in "Rocco and His Brothers" and some great acting but I remained unconvinced of the core principle of the film; that Rocco would sacrifice love, happiness, and the woman he loves for a brother who is selfish, brutal, hateful, destructive, and ungrateful. The movie asserts the primacy of family above all in the most despicable way.
December 26, 2010
Excellent acting but tale of misguided filial obligation doesn't ring true

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Rocco and his Brothers' begins as the Parondi clan move from their rustic life in Lucania, in the southern part of Italy, to the bustling northern metropolis of Milan. Head of the clan is the mother, Rosaria, a loud, obnoxious woman who can be best described as a worry wart. She brings her four sons, Rocco and Simone (in their early 20s), Ciro, a teenager, and Luca (about eight), to visit Vincenzo, the older brother who is engaged to Ginetta (played by Claudia Cardinale before she became famous). The expectation is that Vincenzo has arranged for his in-laws to put his mother and siblings up until they can obtain permanent lodging. Unfortunately, Rosaria and Ginetta's mother don't get along and Vincenzo is forced to find other quarters for them. Vincenzo consults a maintenance man who advises him that the family can move into an expensive apartment, stop paying the rent after a month and have the City of Milan then put them into decent housing since anyone who has officially been evicted, must be provided with social services by the City.

'Rocco' is divided into five segments, focusing on each of the brothers. The first segment involves Vincenzo whose character appears in stark contrast to his younger siblings. Whereas the newly arrived Parondi's are very unsophisticated (they've never seen snow before) and regarded as country bumpkins by the residents of Milan, Vincenzo is a virtual cosmopolitan. While he has a small part in the film, Vincenzo serves two important purposes: 1) He is held up as less stable than the the younger and more together domestic pillar, Ciro, in that he is never able to facilitate a reconciliation between his mother and in-laws and ends up marrying Ginetta, more out of obligation than complete love, after she accidentally becomes pregnant; and 2) He ends up bumping into Nadia, the prostitute, in the hallway of the family's apartment building, introducing her to his other brothers.

The next segment focuses on Simone who is the film's evil antagonist. All good melodramas need a good villain and Simone fits the bill to a tee. He dates Nadia for only a short time before she becomes sick of him; despite dumping him, in Simone's mind, Nadia has become his possession. Despite his professed love for Nadia, Simone has no guilt feelings about seducing the cleaning store manager where Rocco works. This is after he borrows (without permission) an expensive shirt from the cleaners to go on his date with Nadia. What's more he steals a broach from the store manager and gives it to Nadia as a gift; only to have it returned by Nadia to Rocco with a message to Simone that she doesn't want to see him ever again. For a short time, Simone has some success as a local boxer but soon falls from grace.

The next segment focuses on Rocco who can best be described as an 'enabler'. At the end of the film, Ciro describes Rocco as a 'saint' but criticizes him for forgiving everyone for their transgressions. Rocco's character is the linchpin of the film and he's not a convincing character at all. At first, he wants nothing to do with boxing as he regards it as sleazy. Rocco eventually wants to return to the South where his kind-hearted nature might flourish. After joining the Army, he runs into Nadia and they develop a hot and heavy relationship. This leads to the most dramatic moment in the film, when Simone rapes Nadia in front of Rocco out of jealousy and Rocco in turn orders Nadia to 'go back' to Simone out of some kind of misguided filial obligation. If you believe anyone would have been so attached to his brother after spending so much time trying to show a downtrodden prostitute a new life (and actually ending up transforming her), then perhaps I can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. I know it's supposed to be an example of a 'family tragedy', but I just don't believe anyone would have done such a thing, especially after he's a direct witness to his girlfriend being raped. Equally unbelievable is the subsequent scene where Nadia is about to spit in Simone's face and tells him she'll never go back to him--and then ends up kissing him and agrees to be his concubine.

The next to last segment focuses on Ciro who is held up as the only well-adjusted brother in the clan. He is in effect, Rocco's better half. After Simone steals thousands of dollars from his former manager, Rocco (now a successful boxer himself), has his manager guarantee money to pay Simone's debts in exchange for a contract which will obligate him to fight for another 10 years. After Simone kills Nadia, Rocco keeps playing the part of the enabler by insisting that everyone in the family keep quiet. But Ciro wisely informs the police who pick Simone up for Nadia's murder. Ciro serves to restore order to the out of kilter Parondi clan. It's Ciro who also wisely tells Luca, in the final segment, that even returning to the south, the supposed fount of innocence, is not a panacea to life's problems since things are constantly changing and no one can predict the outcome of what life has in store for us.

'Rocco and his Brothers' is very well-acted coupled with excellent cinematography. It should have all the ingredients of a masterpiece but doesn't. That's because its main character is not believable. Sure there are plenty of people like Rocco who would bail their brothers out financially even with the knowledge they had done something wrong; but to order their true love back into a destructive relationship with their brother after he just raped her, that's something I couldn't believe.

One sad addendum: Annie Giardot (Nadia) who was married to Renato Salvatori (Simone) in real life, is still alive but has Alzheimer's and has no memory of her former life.
September 30, 2010
this period in film features some of the most harrowing rape scenes ever depicted. between this, 'the virgin spring,' and 'viridiana,' i'm seriously worried about the global psyche of the early 1960's. 'rocco' is about an extended italian family of 4 brothers attempting to survive in the big city. each brother is given a vignette detailing his struggle, as the larger plot centers around pretty-boy (all the brothers are pretty, really) and reluctant hero rocco's rise to fame as a boxer determined to raise money necessary to dig his family out of both debt and dishonor. it's a melodramatic riff on 'on the waterfront' that nearly spirals out of control but is held in check by luchino visconti's direction, a master of epic melodrama.
½ October 20, 2009
Constructed competently, even artfully at times, with an excellent score and a good performance by Delon. Otherwise, I want my three hours back. The first half is a lot of treading water, really dull stuff. It gets a little more interesting after that, but at no point does it ever gel into a truly compelling story. Everyone is constantly in hysterics: shouting, getting upset, bawling their hearts out, spitting in each other's faces, slapping each other around.
October 4, 2008
I only heard of this movie when reading of director Luchino Visconti. How in this film he finally found the love of male beauty in the face of Alain Delon who plays Rocco in the film. Absolutely mavelous movie with so many different aspects of society change, cultural change, and even family change. I will not go so far as to say that this is one of my favorite films, I can say that you will be hard pressed to find a better all round film. GREAT!
June 24, 2008
This long time favorite is even more of a treat in 35mm. The new print is far stronger than the current US DVD, but that's to be expected. Normally I'm not taken in by these sorts of familial soap operas, but Visconti blends neorealist themes and locations with a combination of campy melodrama and emotional brutality. Depending on your point of view, the screechingly stereotypical mother is either the weak link or the key to untold comedy. There's something disconcerting about all of the women. They receive very little sympathy while we are expected to forgive the brothers as they frequently go astray. Physical contact between men and women is either violent or robotic while the male bonding is strongly, strongly encouraged.

The larger screen lends a lot of power to the photography and the sense that this was the family epic to end all family epics. While Milanese architecture doesn't play as prominent a role as Antonioni's "La Notte", the harsh buildings and unforgiving industrial outskirts are as important as any of the characters. Whether it was just the result of an additional viewing or the new print, I can't be certain, but the eroticism felt more pronounced and uncomfortable this time around. Whether it was in gestures or extreme closeups, I noticed it a lot more this time around.

Alain Delon's title character also played differently this time out. I used to strongly identify with his unrelenting support for his most troubled sibling. Maybe it's my increased ability to healthily detach from unhealthy circumstances, but I kept shaking my head as he never once considered whether allowing some negative consequences could ultimately better his brother. Maybe he needs some therapy.
Super Reviewer
November 30, 2015
Though unnecessarily overlong for the kind of story it wants to tell and tending at times more towards soap-opera melodrama than neorealism, especially in a cathartic scene in the end, this is a spellbinding, moving and brutal film with a great score and a powerful social commentary.
December 19, 2013
Luchino Visconti is such an admirable figure who can depict the life of the oppressed vividly and timelessly, despite being an aristocratic heir. The story of Rocco, which constitutes elements of exploitation, migration, nostalgia, poverty, boxing, family, love, sexuality, betrayal and alcoholism, as well as Nino Rota's score, is indeed an aspiration for Coppola's The Godfather. But the film can never achieve the success without Annie Giradot, who exhibits a complicated personality and gives a great performance as a tragic character beyond her own control; whilst Renato Salvadori's devilish yet pathetic role develops a sensation for audience. Those who are fascinated by the realism delivered in David O. Russell's The Fighter should have felt idiotic if they have ever come across this stunning classic.
October 12, 2015
Luchino Visconti's powerful family drama is a watermark for post-war Italian cinema, and the newly restored version includes previously deleted scenes that only makes the movie more intense. Telling a story that relates both to Italian society and family dynamics, Visconti's film is very rich thematically, and as joyous as it is sad. It's plethora of characters are all fully realized, and the morality tale in the film probably lent a lot to future cinematic storytellers (not least of which, Fellini). Rarely does a film's three-hour running length go as justified as in this case.
September 7, 2015
Looking for a brighter economic future for her family after her husband dies, Rosaria Parondi moves herself and her five sons to Milan from rural southern Italy. There, they face difficulties finding and keeping work, some discrimination, and the different social opportunities and temptations of the city. Director Luchino Visconti begins in neo-realist mode (more or less) but the drama soon shifts into a more literary novelistic style, with tension between the bad son (Renato Salvatori) and the good son (Alain Delon). Salvatori starts out on a boxing career but soon falls in with the wrong crowd, including a prostitute (Annie Girardot) who leads him further astray into petty crime and debauchery. Delon keeps his nose clean, gets drafted into the military and returns to find his bad brother abandoned by his fling, kicked out of boxing, and deep in debt - he subsequently seeks to reform the prostitute, becomes a boxing champion himself, and tries to hold his family together. The other brothers play more minor roles but the escalating melodrama envelops them as well. Indeed, things get very extreme and take this family drama into much darker territory. As Rocco (Delon) suggests, it might have been better if they'd stayed put and not moved to Milan at all. Thus, the film is a lament for the passing of community, family, and tradition in favour of more alienated, individualistic, and industrialized pursuits, although Visconti keeps the story on a small scale.
June 19, 2015
Rocco and His Brothers is pregnant with historical imageries and rich emotions. Full of pathos, the story has such powerful complexity and intensity that stays with you for a long time. Truly, it is a timeless classic.
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