Written and directed by Turkish filmmaker, Ferzan Özpetek, Mine Vaganti is a bittersweet lesson on how one needs to first be true to himself before he can be true to anyone else. Hard to say and even harder to show on screen, screenwriters Özpetek and Ivan Cotroneo have somehow created a story that sends its message across subtly and loudly at the same time. At times emotions are hidden behind a strong, confident smile and other times all frustration breaks loose and single-handedly destroys relationships while at the family dinner table. Nervous breakdowns walk hand in hand with excellent self-control and homosexuality comes dangerously close to homophobia.
Released in February 2010 and produced by Domenico Procacci, the film tells the story of Tommaso, a young man who returns to his home in Lecce for a family reunion after finishing his studies in Rome, hoping to finally reveal to everyone his homosexuality. His brother, however, gets there first and Tommaso is left having to remain in the closet indefinitely, or at least until the chaos that his brother’s coming out caused, passes. Together with this, he will also have to find the strength to announce that he’s not planning on working in the family pasta factory, that he’s going to be a writer, that he has no romantic interest in the gorgeous woman who has fallen for him and that yes, his best friend is actually his partner.
Riccardo Scamarcio as Tommaso is beautiful, subtle and highly engaging — who knows why. He maintains the same confused but calm face throughout the entire film and for some reason this is exactly what makes him so believable and easy to relate to. Everything whirls around him, inner passions are revealed, dark secrets come to light, people break down and homophobic paranoia hits his conservative Southern Italian home. But he just sits quietly in the middle of everything, waiting for the chaos to pass. Waiting for his turn to cause it, without wanting to, without looking forward to it, but also without having any other option.
Alessandro Preziosi succeeds in being annoying while playing the first gay brother to come out during a big family dinner, Nicole Grimaudo is stunning as Alba Brunetti and very convincing as one of the very few women that could actually turn a gay man straight, Lunetta Savino is the hilarious mother Stefania Cantone and Ennio Fantastichini portrays the utterly homophobic paterfamilias beautifully. Elena Sofia Ricci is great as the alcoholic aunt Luciana who is desperate for a love story and Ilaria Occhini is the ultimate silent power as Elena Cantone, the homosexual fraternity’s grandmother.
Is this a farce? Is it a subtle and intelligent comedy? Or is it a heavy melodrama? No one could really say. Mine Vaganti is an all-genre film about closeted homosexuals, Italian stereotypes and the fear of being different as well as accepting anyone who is. This is definitely a film worth seeing for that certain inexplicable and un-pinpoint-able quality that it possesses. It is rebellious in a mainstream, homophobic and stereotypical kind of way, which kind of makes it interesting and refreshing to watch.
Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons) at IMDb
Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons) at Rotten Tomatoes
Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons) at Wikipedia
Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons) (awards won and nominated for) at IMDb