The Way We Laughed

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Acclaimed Italian director Gianni Amelio uses an unusual narrative structure to tell this emotionally rich story of two brothers who, in the late 1950s, leave the poverty of their Sicilian hometown for what they hope will be a better life in the northern city of Turin. The film spans seven years, but rather than opting for a conventional narrative abridgement...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Acclaimed Italian director Gianni Amelio uses an unusual narrative structure to tell this emotionally rich story of two brothers who, in the late 1950s, leave the poverty of their Sicilian hometown for what they hope will be a better life in the northern city of Turin. The film spans seven years, but rather than opting for a conventional narrative abridgement of major events, Amelio divides the film into six chapters and, for each year that passes, dramatizes a single, pivotal day in the Scordia brothers' lives. 1958: Giovanni Scordia (Enrico Lo Verso) arrives at the Porta Nuova train station in Turin for a visit with his beloved younger brother Pietro (Francesco Guiffrida), who's been attending school in the city. Giovanni expects to meet Pietro at the station, but can't find him anywhere amid the bustling crowd of poor southerners who've migrated north looking for work. After a fruitless search, Giovanni makes his way to the cramped, squalid apartment Pietro shares with the family of a relative. Appalled by the conditions he finds there, Giovanni abandons his original plan to return to Sicily and resolves to stay in Turin and make sure his little brother has everything he needs to finish school and fulfill Giovanni's dream of seeing him become a teacher. What Giovanni doesn't realize is that Pietro, a petulant 14-year-old who's both spoiled and suffocated by his doting older brother, was at the train station the entire time, hiding. It becomes clear exactly why he does this after the brothers find one another, and the fascinating fraternal dynamic the film details begins to unfold. Giovanni, who takes a series of miserable jobs to keep Pietro comfortable, fusses over his brother like a mother hen, protecting him from the cares of the world while rendering him unfit for life as an adult. Pietro, meanwhile, assures his brother that he's doing well in school when in reality he's barely passing. As Giovanni's fortunes begin improving — and his morals are compromised — Pietro's prospects start to dim. The fact that the film jumps ahead an entire year between chapters demands a little bit of work on the viewer's part; it's not always entirely clear at the outset of each chapter what exactly has happened in the intervening months. But the film, beautifully shot in widescreen by Luca Bigazzi, is surprisingly accessible and always engaging, if ultimately tragic.

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Acclaimed Italian director Gianni Amelio uses an unusual narrative structure to tell this emotionally rich story of two brothers who, in the late 1950s, leave the poverty of their Sicilian hometown for what they hope will be a better life in the northern c… (more)

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