We already know that families can be nests full of venom. Monicelli already told us that: in his Parenti serpenti he described with sharp wickedness the big and small pettiness of the Italian middle-class families. But if in that dark comedy it was a free-for-all kind of fight, in Denis Rabaglia’s My Beloved Enemy – presented in the Piazza Grande of the Locarno Film Festival – the fight is all but fair.

Enzo, played by Diego Abatantuono, is a quiet professor who loves nature and tranquility. One day, he bumps into a runaway killer (Antonio Folletto) and saves his life. From the moment on, nothing will be the same. To relieve his moral debt, the killer offers Enzo to kill his worst enemy. But Enzo has none, neither inside or outside his family. Or at least that’s what it seems. By looking through the surface, Enzo will find out how things are for real.

Abatantuono states: “The killer too might not be what he seems. Someone could see him as a sort of inner moral voice, and wouldn’t be wrong because this film tells of an awakening, the newfound awareness of a man who jus trusted people without really looking at them. Working on this film has been very interesting for me. I love those films that look for irony without giving up on realism. In this case, the main topic is the solitude of a man facing a reality that conceals enemies among friends, and that unexpectedly shows positive aspects of those who are supposed to be your enemies. It’s also interesting to see how the film deals with the issue of justice that often clash with our desires and moral demands.”

Among Abatantuono’s familiar enemies, we find Sandra Milo – playing a selfish and bossy mother – and Roberto Ciufoli – a peculiar priest. Milo states: “It’s been fun playing this part because in reality I’m the opposite of my character. I’m a very sweet woman who believes in the kindness of the people. When I meet someone who is not exactly that kind, well, I try to imagine him as a child, when he was loved by his parents, pampered by his mother and maybe had some kindness back then.” Ciufoli adds: “Luckily nice people are never completely nice, likewise the bad ones. Life has fun in subverting the perspectives and fools us around.”

Director Denis Rabaglia further states: “I tried to tell this story as a Poirot novel, giving all characters a bit of suspense and then analyzing all the possible guilty ones. I am very happy with the final result, that was made possible also thanks to the precious collaboration of Diego Abatantuono who has been extremely generous: he set the tone of the story and guided our team as an excellent orchestra director.”

Abatantuono too confirms he participated in the writing process: “It’s a habit for me to whisper some comments that are neither an off-screen voice nor proper dialogue lines, but just a sort of openhearted thinking of the character I’m playing. I think these could be useful to get the progressive awareness of the character, who couldn’t see anything at first, but then start to understand the people around him. This is my major contribution to this film, in which I worked with extraordinary actors and a special crew. It’s been an honor to work with Sandra Milo, a diva who can play all the roles – playing his son is a glorious moment in my career.”