Deliberately opaque for its first 20 minutes, it’s hard to see exactly what film Sebastiano Riso’s Una Famiglia actually is for a good while after it starts. Come the end, you’ll wish it never revealed itself, as what comes to the fore is a vile, miserable, horribly misjudged melodrama about awful people. One of the most utterly rancid films of recent years, it took a huge amount of will to not just get up and leave.

Micaela Ramazzotti and Patrick Bruel play Maria and Vincenzo, a couple in the business of having babies in order to sell them to childless couples who can’t adopt. It’s a unique premise, but the couple are so intensely dislikable (he’s a brutish boor, she is by turns boring and incomprehensible) that the film can’t wring any feeling other than moral disgust from their situation. Motivations and desires of the characters are slipshod and changeable on a whim, to the point where the decisions they make, even in consequent scenes, are so drastically opposed to one another that you’re always wondering if you’ve missed something.

With material this poor to work from, it’s no surprise that Ramazzotti and Bruel turn in bad performances; Bruel flat and lifeless in every scene and Ramazzotti handed a role in which all she gets to do is grimace and gurn in various states of undress. Riso’s film is deeply misogynistic, and he can’t go more than five minutes without having a woman get slapped or groped, before suddenly deciding that Vincenzo’s middle-aged Neanderthal features would make him irresistible to a 19-year-old girl.

Terrible on both a technical level and as an insight into the psyche of its makers, Una Famiglia is unlikely to ever see any kind of UK release but, if it does, avoid it at all costs.



CAST: Micaela Ramazzotti, Patrick Bruel, Fortunato Cerlino

DIRECTOR: Sebastiano Riso

WRITERS: Andrea Cedrola, Stefano Grasso, Sebastiano Riso

SYNOPSIS: Vincent and Maria live a secluded life in Rome, hatching a plan to help couples who cannot conceive.