26 February 2010 | mdefranc
It means being human..
Duncombe, cold and distant father, besides UK Consul General in Florence, carelessly applies his stark communicative methods with his first son Andrew after his wife's death, which Andrew had sensed well before his father's disclosure of the sad news.
Duncombe's several duties, which constantly keep him away from the family, force Andrew to look after Miles, his little brother. Andrew valiantly carries on, humoring his spoiled sibling, putting on the apparent front of a strong man, getting himself into a lot of trouble due to Miles' continuous mischiefs.
Unbeknownst to his father, Andrew silently suffers his loss; blame is all Duncombe lays on young Andrew, probably due to his incapacity to deal with such pain himself.
It will be at the end, as often seen in life, that the diplomat will experience his second loss, probably the ultimate one, the one he negligently couldn't prevent. His coldness will eventually hit him during the last moments of Andrew's early, shattered adulthood.
Comencini gives this young man the power to annihilate the lavish and colorful home and surrounding environment, reminding us that once it's too late there's no return. There's perfect synchronicity between the colors/tones/score and the setting of the picture, a rather clear representation of life in Florence during the late 60's where roles, both social and professional were well defined.
Using a term I have commented with for a different movie, we are seeing a positive-negative image of Comencini's Pinocchio, where the father is constantly running after his son, both for loneliness and to keep him out of trouble. I think some of us will agree with the fact that Miles' role somewhat reminds us of the fictional character.
The comment's title has, for the record, its ambivalence.