Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Tommi doesn't expect life to be easy. His mother left some time ago - not for the first time - but he and his sister and his dad have managed pretty well by themselves. He's doing well at school and is also proving a success in the swimming team, whilst his dad is starting up his own business. But when his mother returns again, everything turns upside down.

Libero is a simple tale of family breakdown, seen entirely from Tommi's perspective as he tries to make sense both of the events themselves and of his role in them. It's a coming of age tale, though Tommi is really far too young to cope with what's happening to him. His mother is mentally ill and his father, increasingly frustrated, becomes ever more destructive of himself and those around him. In between trying to deal with the two of them, Tommi is also trying to carve out his own identity. He wants to drop swimming and go to football school. He wants to develop new friendships. His concerns are simple and often naive, but are so sincere that it would be impossible not to feel for him. When it all gets too much, he wanders out along the rooftops of his apartment building, the sort of dangerous stunt which terrifies parents but which is often essential to giving children their own space. Up on the ridge he can be alone and observe everything.

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A story of this type depends entirely on the skills of its cast. Fortunately, young Alessandro Morace, who plays Tommi, is a real stand-out, enormously capable and effortlessly charming. Kim Rossi Stuart, who also made his directorial debut here, gives a tumultuous, aggressive performance as the father, but Morace is more than a match for it. Though she has relatively little screen time, the ebullient Barbora Bobulova is perfect as the mother whose every word is utterly sincere and utterly unreliable. The family is completed by Marta Nobili as sister Viola, a complicated and often disruptive force in Tommi's life, dabbling with the fun side of adulthood but less willing to start taking on responsibility.

Libero is a modest, unassuming yet delightful film, one of those gems which, from time to time, seems to come out of nowhere. A must for fans of family dramas.

Reviewed on: 24 Jan 2008
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In an imperfect world, compromise can often produce the happiest results.
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Director: Kim Rossi Stuart

Writer: Linda Ferri, Federico Starnone, Francesco Giammusso, Kim Rossi Stuart

Starring: Kim Rossi Stewart, Barbora Bobulova, Alessandro Morace, Marta Nobili, Stefano Busirivici, Alberto Mangiante, Tommaso Ragno, Massimo Vincenti

Year: 2005

Runtime: 108 minutes

Country: Italy


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