Love's Brother


Directed by: Jan Sardi
Written by:Jan Sardi
Starring: Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Garcia, Amelia Warner,4 Silvia De Santis
Released: April 1, 2004
Grade: B

We don’t get a lot of big name stars and directors here in Brisbane but I was fortunate enough to see a premiere screening of Love’s Brother with director Jan Sardi and stars Adam Garcia and Amelia Warner in attendance.  Following the movie was a short question & answer session but unfortunately there was not the time to ask the question burning in my mind.

There comes a point in almost every romantic film where you know whether or not the leading characters will end up together.  As a writer, how do you get past this?  How do you keep the story interesting when your audience knows how it will end?  I don’t know if there is an obvious answer to this question but I’d love to know what other more knowledgeable filmgoers think.

In the early 1950s in Australia, there were many Italian men but not enough Italian women.  The men sent letters and photos of themselves back home to try to convince the women of Italy to marry them and then come to Australia to live.  In Love’s Brother, Angelo (Ribisi) and Gino (Garcia) are two men of this time.  Gino already has an Australian girlfriend in Connie (De Santis) but Angelo is continually turned down.

In a moment of foolishness, Angelo sends a letter to a girl in Italy named Rosetta (Warner) but includes a photo of the better looking Gino.  Rosetta then accepts his invitation for marriage takes her vows in Italy and sets sail for Australia.  Now the day of her arrival has come and Angelo can no longer hide the guilt that has built inside him.  He confesses to Gino and his family that she will be expecting to meet not Angelo, but Gino!

For director Jan Sardi, Love’s Brother marks his first time in the director’s chair.  Sardi is a two-time Academy Award nominee having both written and produced the wonderful Australian film Shine.  He struggled for finance but has made the most of a small budget having employed the quality services of cinematographer Andrew Leslie (The Lord Of The Rings) and composer Stephen Warbeck (Shakespeare In Love).  It’s a beautiful looking picture.

Conversely, I question the casting of Giovanni Ribisi (Lost In Translation, Boiler Room).  His character is too creepy and his “Godfather” like accent was too over the top.  The screenplay asks us to feel sorry for him but his performance left me feeling anything but.  Adam Garcia (Coyote Ugly) and Amelia Warner (Quills) certainly outshone the more talented Ribisi.

Once you’ve seen the film, you’ll understand the comments I made at the start of this review.  The film reaches a point where the ending becomes very predictable and as a consequence, the final half-hour felt like a drawn-out affair.  Still, there are romantics amongst us who will soak such a flick… but not me.