If Ferzan Özpetek is not Queerguru’s favorite queer Italian filmmaker, then he is definitely near the top of our list. This Turkish born Italian captured our attention with Hamam (Steam: The Turkish Baths) in 1997. He then when on to capture our hearts with his multi-award winning The Ignorant Fairies (released in the US/UK as His Secret Life.
Since then Özpetek has established a real panache for his multi-layered queer stories that often center around some melodrama and/or tragedy but always contains another twists that always surprise us. He does favor prefer using his favorite actors as often as possible … .Stefano Accorsi who won Best Actor in The Ignorant Fairies also stars in this latest film.
More importantly however is whilst all his films have main protagonists, Özpetek and his co-writers always ensure that the ensemble cast have well rounded roles that actually make a major contribution to the film itself.
This particular story focuses on a gay couple in Rome who discover that the ‘rough patch’ they are going through may be more serious than they think. Alessandro (Edoardo Leo) and Arturo (Stefano Accorsi) seem an unlikely couple. The former is a successful plumber who works for himself, whilst the latter who evidently passed up in an academic career works from home as a book translator.
In the opening scenes, they are throwing a party in their home for two gay friends about to get married when in bursts Annamaria (Jasmine Trinca) who is Alessandro’s closest friend since childhood . Although she was born in to an aristocratic family Annamaria is a very free-spirited mother of two children fathered by different men neither of which are any longer in the picture. She wants to leave her young children Martina (Sara Ciocca) and her brother, Alessandro (Edoardo Brandi) with Arturo and Alessandro for a few days whilst she undergoes some tests in hospital.
Annamaria may be vague about her health but it’s kind of clear to us where this particularly line is going. However what no-one predicted was that Arturo had broken his agreement with Alessandro about having one-night-stands and has had the same lover for the past two years.
As they are coming to grips with this, Annamaria shares that her stay in hospital will be much longer, and as the two men are now on the verging of splitting up they have no alternative to take the kids to stay with their Grandmother the Baroness in Sicily.
Annamaria has been estranged from her mother for years and the moment Arturo and Alessandro step into her unwelcoming palatial mansion and meer her they can completely understand why.
At this point Özpetek has us completely invested in this story and doesn’t disappoint at all. This is as very bit as entertaining as all his previous movies, and as usual he also treats us to some rather spectacular locations at the same time too.
With an excellent cast and high production values there is such an assured maturity to Özpetek’s films which we so wish other queer filmmakers could aspire too