Also with: Matteo Bigoni, Valeria D'Onofrio, Fabio Modesti.
Also with: Matteo Bigoni, Valeria D’Onofrio, Fabio Modesti.
A caustic half-comedy, half-drama about two brothers who hate each other to death, “Poison” is often amusing but never completely convincing. Made without stars, it will have to scramble to do better on the Italo market than Mario Monicelli’s recent (and superior) “Parenti Serpenti” (Relatives: Snakes), which failed to take off.
The Strano brothers (Carlo Colnaghi, Elio De Capitani) start quarreling at their father’s funeral when one accuses the other of having used cheap wood for the coffin. Division of the sprawling country mansion does not proceed smoothly, and each brother moves into a separate wing with his family.
The house becomes a theater of war for the latter-day Cain and Abel, who go at each other day and night until the escalating violence involves the whole family. One day, De Capitani disappears, and Colnaghi is thrown into prison for his apparent murder.
Debuting helmer Bruno Bigoni fails to keep his admirable cast rowing together. Colnaghi reprises his poignant victim role from “Manila Paloma Blanca”; De Capitani (who resembles him not at all) goes overboard on comic routines; and Marina Confalone (“Parenti Serpenti”) plays in yet another key as a vain, egotistical wife for whom money is everything. A half-developed romance between two of the brothers’ kids further dilutes the dramatic waters.
Result is an emotionally confused picture graced by an occasional good gag. A solid crew led by cinematographer Luca Bigazzi makes it all watchable.