Written and directed by Doug Bremner, when five sisters return to their home in Sicily to divide up the family art and antiques, all hell breaks loose. Starring: Zoe Myers, Maggie Gwin, Ismail Ibn Conner, Concetta DeLuco, Caroline Avery Granger, Rob Maniscalco, T.J. Sanson, Dawn Campion and Bill Neenan.
Trying to create an old fashioned family drama styled comedy is not an easy thing to do without walking down an overtly cheesy, superficial route but thankfully Inheritance, Italian Style manages to keep those qualities down to the minimum. The style feels like the antics of 70s or 80s cinema, it mixes tongue-in-cheek, euphemism and a silly edge. It’s a style that often trips up its filmmakers by not feeling self-aware of the ridiculous and melodramatic nature of their story but Bremner does feel conscious of that. It falls right into the argumentative and flawed nature of family, creating drama and misadventures. The dialogue can feel somewhat clumsy or wooden at times but it’s such a motley crew of characters, that it holds a certain charm which keeps you plugged in.
The performances are exactly what you’d expect for this type of story, they air on the side of cheesy but avoid falling into hard enough to enter dislikeable territory. The attempts at Italian accents are also predictably bad, but in such a way that it’s fun to listen to them go in and out, slip into American or some form of Eastern European. It helps that feel of the film being aware of its silly nature, they’re just going for it and unconcerned with any form of false perfection. Some of the actors give better performances than others but not enough that they’re singled out, the ensemble create a decent balance.
Directorially, it does well to not be too still or too messy, which allows things to move at a good pace. It’s constantly cycling through its different family members, so it never gets stuck on one moment for too long. There’s a few make-up and style choices here and there that don’t work so well, particularly a very fake beard. Although overall, it keeps things fairly simple, mostly taking place in one well chosen location and not trying to push itself too far or do too much. Those choices have a great deal to do with why this film works, it keeps a good focus and puts the attention on its characters rather than trying to introduce a bunch of strangers to unnecessarily complicate things.
Inheritance, Italian Style takes its stylings from comedy of the past, leaning into a 70s or 80s style and letting itself revel in some silly family antics. It’s melodramatic but still manages to create a persuasive charm with its ragtag characters. It feels aware of the fact that it has a fairly ridiculous nature but stops itself from ever going too far, to make sure that it holds your attention. It may not work for everyone but if you’re looking for a carefree, light-hearted comedy, then you’ve found the right film.