For his feature film writing/directing debut actor Anthony J. Caruso has chosen to adapt, and star in, Salvatore Sapienza’s Lambda Literary Award-nominated novel “Seventy Times Seven”. It’s an intriguing new take on the classic conundrum for a gay Catholic priest who has to choose between his vocation and his earthly love of his life.
Brother Vito Fortunato (Caruso) is a very modern Seminarian as he is openly gay to all the other Brothers in the Order that he belongs too, and he hangs out in gay bars with his best friend from his previous secular life. In fact the movie opens with Brother Vito outside of a club one night being very sorely tempted to break his vow of chastity with a very handsome stranger.
When he confesses to his Spiritual Adviser Sister Peggy (June Griffin Garcia) that he is struggling with temptations, she suggests he goes away to Austin for a working vacation at Catholic Aids Care Center for a break and renewal.
Once there one of his new colleagues is the good-looking landscaper Gabe (Derek Babb) who soon also becomes his new best friend. Before you can say Barbara Streisand the two of them are having an innocent night out together and are in Gabe’e very compact trailer watching “Yentl”. Whilst Gabe may not have liked the movie, it’s pretty clear to us (if not Vito) that he was really liking the Brother.
Gabe is sensing Vito’s reluctance to let their relationship to blossom and is determined to show Vito that it’s not only possible for two men to really love each other but live together happily as a couple, by introducing him to his neighbors Randy (Ed Pope) and Winston (Steve Uzzell) who have been together for decades .
One very innocent sleepover that Gabe and Vito share in Gabe’s trailer is followed soon after by another one where the innocence, and almost everything else is shrugged off, and the two men finally embrace their feelings for each other without any hesitation. Its when its over and Vito is shipped back home, that the two then have to decide if they really have a future together,
Caruso’s movie is one of those old-fashioned feel-good crowd pleasers that will appeal to all those who love a happy ending to their LGBT stories. His Vito is charming and funny and surrounded by a coterie of campy gay characters that border on stereotypes at times. His very modern approach to being a Catholic Father seemed a tad surreal at times especially for someone who puts great store on his vow of chastity yet still insisted on regularly exposing himself to temptations he knew that he simply could not resist.
Kudos to Babbs for adding an authentic sense of realism to the piece with his compelling nuanced performance as Gabe.
Brotherly Love is an entertaining movie and perfect for a date night, especially if the other person is a Catholic priest.