Geremia, a sixty-something year old man, lives in a dilapidated and disgusting flat with his mother. Geremia works as a tailor but his real source of income is his loan shark business that has made him considerably wealthy. When he is a approached by a new client who needs help paying for his daughter's wedding, Geremia agrees to loan him the money, but his selfish tendencies and obsessive infatuation over the man's beautiful young daughter threaten to destroy everything he has built. Paolo Sorrentino's films are all very cinematic, with grandiose style and camera work that harkens back to the old master's of Italian cinema. Sorrentino is one of the few modern filmmakers that appreciates the grandiose form of cinema, using sweeping wide-shots and surreal imagery to create a world that is familiar to the viewer while providing a unique viewpoint. Apparently a lot of people view Sorrentino's work as style over substance but I would use The Family Friend as a counterpoint to that argument. Sure, this is an incredibly indulgent film from a style perspective but the simple fact remains: If you remove all the stylish camera-work and surrealist moments, The Family Friend is still a tragic portrait of a conniving man whose own greed has destroyed him. In The Family Friend our main protagonist Geremia is a miserable human-being who is completely driven by his greed. What Sorrentino is willing to accomplish is impressive, making this man a truly sympathetic character. All the money in the world can't buy Geremia the one thing he truly covets the most - some form of love or physical connection with a woman. He may not even fully grasp his own loneliness and he has done a lot of wrong, but as the film progresses Sorrentino begins to reveal that he is merely a bi-product of his upbringing. This isn't to say that Sorrentino makes excuses for Geremia, not at all, but by the end of the film one cannot help feel sorry for this lonely man whose skewed value system has led to his own destruction. In the end, The Family Friend is a great unique piece of film-making that plays out almost like a child's fable in illustrating how individual greed and selfishness ultimately lead to downfall.
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