Writer-director Pupi Avati's colorless drama.

A tycoon hiding shady biz practices tricks his estranged son into heading his troubled companies in writer-director Pupi Avati’s colorless drama “The Youngest Son.” After more than 40 spells in the helmer’s chair, Avati has settled into being a proficient but conventional director whose use of post-synched dialogue, back projection and soft-edged characterizations gives the term “old-fashioned” a bad name. Bankrolled by the Berlusconi-owned Medusa group, this tale of a compromised captain of industry saw B.O. drop significantly in its second week, despite the casting of some big names.

Wealthy industrialist Luciano (Christian De Sica) marries Fiamma (Laura Morante) to secure ownership of properties and then promptly abandons her and their two pre-wedlock kids. Years later, his empire is crumbling and CFO Bollino (Luca Zingaretti) convinces Luciano to make nice with long-lost son Baldo (Nicola Nocella) so they can sign over toxic debts to the clueless chump. Any indictment of cold-hearted commerce is emasculated by two-dimensional scripting, though De Sica, here in a non-comedic role, does better than the rest. Nice locales give the eye something to contemplate when the dubbing doesn’t jive.

The Youngest Son

Italy

Production

A Medusa Film release of a DueA Film production, in association with Medusa Film, with the participation of Mediocreval. Produced by Antonio Avati. Directed, written by Pupi Avati, based on his novel.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Pasquale Rachini; editor, Amedeo Salfa; music, Riz Ortolani; production designer, Giuliano Pannuti; costume designer, Steno Tonelli. Reviewed at Cinema Roma, Rome, Feb. 25, 2010. Original title: Il figlio piu piccolo. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Christian De Sica, Laura Morante, Luca Zingaretti, Nicola Nocella, Sydne Rome, Massimo Bonetti, Manuela Morabito, Alessandra Acciai, Fabio Ferrari, Alberto Gimignani, Maurizio Battista, Giulio Pizzirani, Matilde Matteucci, Marcello Maietta, Vincenzo Failla, Aurora Cossio, Gisella Marengo, Tiziana Buldini.

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