Farinelli | Chicago Reader

Farinelli

A fairly watchable period film from Belgium by Gerard Corbiau, but ultimately a rather incoherent one due to the overall evasiveness about its two real-life central characters—Farinelli (born Carlo Broschi, 1705-1782), a famous castrato singer born in Naples, and his older brother Riccardo, a composer whose fame depended on his brother's performance of his works. The curious psychosexual bond between these siblings is an important part of this movie's subject, but the speculative portrait offered isn't fully developed; at times one is tempted to read the whole thing as a fractured allegory about art and commerce that's trying to become another Amadeus. A conceptual movie without a concept, it features a villainous Handel (Jeroen Krabbe), many 18th-century female opera groupies, overblown music, sumptuous sets, and a weird notion of what opera consists of (most of the excerpts make it seem like a one-man show). Still, there are many arresting details around the edges. With Stefano Dionisi, Enrico Lo Verso, Elsa Zylberstein, and Caroline Cellier.

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