The first time we catch sight of 16 year old Rocco (Andrea Amato), he is trying to lose his virginity with his best friend Maria (Carolina Pavone). Unfortunately he quickly loses his erection and starts to vex if it’s because Maria is like a sister to him, or the fact that he thinks his penis is too small. Maria re-assures him that it’s all quite OK even though she is far too distracted by texting on her cellphone to be that invested in having sex with him anyway. It turns out later on, that the real reason for his inability ‘to perform’ is that Rocco is in fact gay, which is something he has even accepted right now.
When there is an incident at Rocco’s school that results in one of his classmates getting injured, everyone guesses it is because the boy had fallen when he tried to escape after been caught in flagrante in the bathroom. What is more surprising, particularly to Olga (Veronica Pivetti), Rocco confesses to her that he had in fact been the boy’s partner who had got away undetected. The news that her only child is gay throws her into a real hissy fit, and it doesn’t sit much better with her divorced husband Manuele (Corrado Invernizzi) who even though he has been a very inconspicuous father, doesn’t hesitate to weigh on his displeasure too.
Rocco and Maria and their best friend Mauri (Francesco De Miranda) are now even more determined to go to a concert of their pop-singing idol especially now that he had received such homophobic comments and vitriol in the media after coming out as gay, and he has now decided to ‘retire’. This involves ‘borrowing’ Olga’s car without permission and setting off to Milan with very little money and desperately hoping to score some tickets for the gig. However this road trip, in which they are pursued by Olga and Rocco’s grandmother, doesn’t go as planned at all, and makes for a very messy second half of the movie.
This well-meaning coming-out drama, which is also Veronica Pivetti’s directing debut, ends up sadly as a cliched and somewhat unbelievable story. Olga is not only a very successful journalist for a hip magazine but she and Rocco live in a rather trendy apartment in a fashionable part of Rome that all seems so incompatible with a rampant homophobic mother who refuses to believe her son could be gay and insists that he get immediate treatment. Even more inconceivable was the fact that his father, who also refused to believe that Rocco was queer, was in fact a famous psychotherapist, and something of a philandering one too, as after he went to a meeting at Rocco’s school, he added the teacher to his latest list of conquests.
The lack of any real intimacy with the characters is very striking, and although mother and son seem initially to share some warmth, that soon dissipates. Even though the script makes great play on the fact that his Grandmother is an ardent Fascist, it turns out that she is only one in the family who will accept Rocco unconditionally. However what was the most disturbing element of the movie was its careful avoidance of any real physical interaction between Rocco and his potential amours anytime throughout the movie, and especially in the poignant closing scene.
For a small indie movie it had exceptional good production values and some beautifully nuanced performances particularly from Amato and Pavone, it is therefore such a pity the story seemed to be stuck so rigidly with this passé attitudes that LGBT movies covered so much better in the past.
It maybe A Little Lust , but it was also Not Much Love either.