Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti) reviewed

A review

A feast to the senses, luscious ochres, yellows and warm hues, a young woman in a wedding dress running towards a tower-house in a desolate hill in what seems to be a post-war era greeted me as I started watching Ferzan Ozpetek’s Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti), an elegant and compassionate study of the disintegration of the Cantone, a Puglian family which has built their fortune on pasta.

The story centres on the return of the younger son, Tommaso (heart throb Riccardo Scamarcio), from Rome, where he was supposed to have read Business to follow on the footsteps of his father to manage the factory. However, instead he comes back with a Literature degree and an embryonic career as a writer instead of the fully formed businessman that his father had expected. Particularly when a new partner has joined the firm. Tommaso is going to reveal to the family not only he did not read what he was supposed to, but also a secret about his sexuality: he is gay.

However, Antonio, his older brother declares his own sexuality to the family first, resulting in his exclusion from the clan, and his father having a mild heart attack, as homosexuality is a word which cannot be spoken in front of him. His world collapses, as he finds impossible to accept Antonio’s sexuality. The management of the factory is thrown onto the shoulders of a reluctant and disinterested Tommaso and Alba Brunetti, the partner’s young, aloof and glamorous daughter with an iron fist (Nicole Grimaudo conveying the little girl lurking behind the arrogant face of a spoilt kid) .

Further embarrassment and revelations spring up when Tommaso’s gay friends arrive from Rome on their way to the beach, leading to a series of situations where they have to keep straight faces all the time in front of the father, as the rest of the family has mostly grasped the reality of their sexuality.

Tommaso’s grandmother weaves in and out of the story, sometimes in flashbacks, revealing a family past which is not as stiff and straight as we have been led to believe, casting a compassionate eye on the going ons of the family.

Mauricio Calvezi’s cinematography paints this film with a very characteristic Mediterranean feel, reminiscent of the work that Sven Nyqvist did casting Ingmar Bergman’s work with a Northern ambience.

Loose Cannons moves skilfully and effortlessly from a dissection of the inner workings of an Northern industrialist family (comparisons can be drawn here with I Am Love) to the taboos and prejudices still afflicting Italian society, a feisty and compassionate comedy of errors which gives a certain glow past the easy laughs, coming from the realization that life goes on.

I left the cinema happily smiling at my fellow humans, getting a few strange looks as a result of that. Oh, cool and rainy England!

Director: Ferzan Ozpetek
Cert: 15
Language: Italian (English Subtitles)
Cast: Riccardo Scamarcio, Alessandro Preziosi, Nicole Grimaudo, Ennio Fantastichini, Lunetta Savino, Elena Sofia Ricci, Ilaria Occhini

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