Originally made for Italian television, this six-hour drama has plenty of quality to go with its arse-numbing quantity.
Marco Tullio Giordana's ambitious movie charts the fortunes of two middle-class brothers (Luigi Lo Cascio, Alessio Boni) and their relatives and friends over the course of four decades in turbulent post-war Italy. We watch them go through floods in Florence, the terrorist activities of the Red Brigade, industrial disputes, government bribery scandals, and the murders of anti-Mafia investigators.
Switching between locations in Rome, Milan, Turin, Tuscany and Sicily, Giordana confidently handles the film's sweep and intimacy, displaying an admirable compassion for the dilemmas of his characters. It's impressively acted by the ensemble cast, with Sonia Bergamasco's mentally ill Giulia emerging as the pivotal figure - - a symbol of the suffering and conflicts within a bitterly divided nation. Few people will be willing to put aside six hours of their life, but those who do will be justly rewarded.