Inheritance: Italian Style is an indie comedy-drama set in Sicily and filmed outside of Atlanta without a single Italian in the cast, which means most of the accents are what you would expect. Imagine a film where most of the Italian accents are worse than, but equally entertaining as, Jared Leto’s recent turn in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci and where most of the characters in a sprawling cast are as weird and passively-aggressively nasty as possible … and where the money issues faced by the family matriarch are due to ties with the Mafia because, well, she’s an Italian. Writer-director Doug Bremner’s 2014 film got a streaming release earlier this year, and it’s a pleasantly surprising bit of small-budget comedic goofiness.
Five sisters return to their family home in Sicily to discuss their inheritance. Normally that happens after the passing of an elder family member, but that’s just not how it’s done in the Parlazzi family. Mallatta (Dawn Campion) wants to make sure things are taken care of and understood among her daughters before she’s shed the mortal coil. Natascia (Caroline Granger) is a successful entrepreneur married to Ari (Rob Maniscalco), a pervy psychiatrist. The second-oldest, Seconda (Zoe Myers), is trapped in an unhappy marriage with Lucky (Ismail Ibn Conner), who brings his southern mistress along on the trip in secret. Fulvia (Maggie Gwin) has found herself stuck with sketchy art dealer Aboyance (Bill Neenan), while her sister Tristana (Tori Montgomery) hates pretty much everyone and lets them know it. If Tristana is depressed, youngest sister Duplecia (Concetta DeLuco) is the opposite: fancy-free and completely disinterested in power games but very into an affair with the gardener’s dimwitted son.
That’s a lot to remember. I’ll admit I had a little trouble. Eventually, the ensemble grew on me, though, especially as the women’s useless men start sleeping around and revealing odd proclivities. The comedy is broad, filled with colorful character beats that would feel outlandish if it weren’t for the fact that each bit of strangeness is more memorable than the last. Eventually, it all cascades into a minor mystery plot as the family comes together to find a priceless heirloom that could solve their financial woes.
It’s worth returning to Campion’s attempted Italian accent, which sounds about how you’d expect from someone asked to put on a new voice without any formal training. Sometimes she sounds borderline Jamaican. She reminds me of the character Maria Sofia on this season’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. No two lines sound congruous. Maybe it’s not intentionally hilarious, but it’s certainly endearing. Campion’s efforts are the most memorable example of this micro-budget movie simply making do with what it has.
Inheritance isn’t the sort of indie that will win points for polish, but within the roughness is a charming, silly comedy with a good cast and solid “we can get this thing done” energy. It may not be perfect, but it’s definitely entertaining and endearing.