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As the soundtrack swells relentlessly to all-purpose Mediterranean strains, Love's Brother (Jan Sardi, 2004) gives every sign of being not merely set in the 1950s but made then as well. We are back, it is tempting to think, in the world of some big, glutinous Twentieth Century Fox romance for the new CinemaScope screen; the world of, say, Three Coins in the Fountain (Jean Negulesco, 1954). And so, up to a point, we are; though I don't mean by this to write off the film as a throwback dud.
Its plot does recall other films in which proxy marriages have been contracted between the wrong couples as a result of letters of mistaken authorship. I'm sure I've seen lots of these, though at the moment I can only think of Garson Kanin's They Knew What They Wanted (1940), William Dieterle's Love Letters (1945) and Victor Saville's Green Dolphin Street (1947), in which Carole Lombard, Jennifer Jones and Lana Turner respectively married the wrong man but in each case everyone ends up properly partnered. That's how it was managed then; and that's how it pans out in Love's Brother, half a century later. (And that's how Shakespeare regularly sorted out pairs of mismatched lovers four centuries earlier.)
Angelo Donnini (Giovanni Ribisi), nerdish and uptight, is urged by his more handsome, freewheeling …