Loose Cannons – Review

Loose Cannons (2010) 

(Mine vaganti: Original Title)

Directed by Ferzan Ozpetek. Starring Riccardo ScamarcioNicole GrimaudoAlessandro PreziosiElena Sofia RicciIlaria Occhini.

Italo-Turkish director Ferzan Ozpetek goes back to what he knows and does best: a”coming-out” comedy” about homosexuality and family values, full of memorable quirky characters, laugh out-loud moments mixed with bittersweet and poignant reflections.

These are also the themes of one of my old favorite Ozpetek’s film, the Ignorant Fairies (Le fate Ignoranti), made 10 years ago.

It is all fairly watchable stuff and it sort of works as long as it’s on the screen. However, any attempt of social comment or critique at any serious issue (the close mindedness of the South of Italy, and the way Italians like to appear which is more important than the way they are, among the others) quickly fades away and gets diluted in the pursuit of easy laughers and in the over-the-top, almost caricatural depictions of the characters. Of course, it is supposed be a comedy… but sadly that’s all it is.

The story is set in Lecce, a city in the heel of the Italian boot, in the deep south. and it focuses on the large Cantone family (so large that it took me a while to work out who was who). Tommaso, is about to come out to his parents. One night, at the dinner table, just when he’s about to break the news to the family, his older brother, Antonio announces himself to everyone that he’s gay.

The father’s refusal to accept or understand his older brother’s sexuality gives him a heart attack and leaving Tommaso at the helm of the family pasta making business, whilst at the same time trying to deal with his own hidden truth (fearing that his father won’t survive the news of both of his 2 sons being gay).

There are a lot of other storylines, and the family is certainly large enough to offer several opportunities for sub-plots. Unfortunately most of the characters remain just superficial caricatures (the wise grandmother, the loony aunt, the apprehensive mother, the homophobic father, the girl in love with the gay man and so on…) and in the end the film falls into the same clichés the director is trying to ridicule in the film.

In a way, there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, (funnily enough even within Ozpetek’s previous films too) but it’s good to see the overshadowed-by-the-Vatican-Italy finally arriving there too.

The film is handsomely filmed and the great looking, almost-perfect settings only seem to enhanced the imperfections of the family itself.

The editing (and direction) both seem a bit too pleased with themselves: some scenes could have gained something by being trimmed a bit. Even the most emotional moments always seem to go on for a bit too much than it’s needed (I’m thinking of the scenes around the tables, or more crucially – SPOILER COMING –  the one where the grandmother decides to go for her cakes, or even the one at the beach. You get the point after a few seconds and yet both scenes go on and on and on).

The same goes for the over-used music, both in terms of the actual score (which once again stresses the slapstick aspect of the film) and known songs, most of which seem rather random and a bit intrusive.

Most of the acting is very good especially the woman grandmother (Ilaria Occhini) who seems to be the only one really sees what’s happening within her family.

In the end I am happy I saw this film, and I did enjoy it, but I’m still longing for the return of the real Commedia all’Italiana of the 50s and 60s (and to a degree the 70s too) which really provided a mirror of Italian customs and values, attacking prejudices and questioning the general thinking of elites and institutions in a much more subtle way. The sometimes dark and bleak vision of the society and the bittersweet laughers those films provoked, felt a lot less forced than they are in this film which is clearly trying to be bit more commercial. Still, we’re probably heading towards the right direction.


You can read more about “Commedia all’Italiana” on my previous post on Mario Monicelli

Mario Monicelli (1915 – 2010)

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