Loose Cannons

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Movie review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo, Alessandro Presiosi, Ennio Fantastichini, Lunetta Savino
Director: Ferzan Ozpetek

In LOOSE CANNONS, prolific and acclaimed director Ferzan Ozpotek returns to a theme he has often explored in his films, the subject of homosexuality in today’s society. In a comedy-drama that would appeal to all, he brings us an entertaining portrait of a traditional Italian family with not one but two gay sons struggling to come out.

When Tommaso (Riccardo Scamarcio) returns to his home town of Lecce, he confesses to his brother Antonio that he’s gay. Fresh from University life in Rome, the last thing he wants is to be initiated into the family pasta business. By making an announcement to his family later that night, he’ll make his father angry enough to sever all ties with him and be free to live the life he desires. Antonio says nothing. And just as Tommaso is about to carry out his plan, Antonio steals the thunder to reveal that he is gay himself. The furious Vincenzo throws Antonio out instead, but gets so distressed that he suffers a heart attack. Tommaso knows that now he can never reveal his secret.

The strong centrepiece of the film is undoubtedly Scamarcio’s beautifully judged performance as the lead, Tommaso. Full of anguished passivity, he slopes around like a gentle and thoughtful animal. Scamarcio is ably supported by a well-conceived cast of ‘loose cannons’, from his eccentric aunt Lucia to his demanding father Vincenzo. And the film surely has one of the most beautiful and romantic opening sequences I’ve ever seen (but I won’t spoil it here – see it for yourself).

Occasionally things put in for comic effect detract from the main storyline, such as a seaside number when Tommaso’s gay friends visit, and a reconciliation at the end in part does not quite ring true. But Tommaso’s relationships with his unpredictable but wise grandmother (the outstanding Ilaria Occhini), and the beautiful Alba (the charming and talented Nicole Grimaudo), are genuinely refreshing and touching. Alba’s feelings for Tommaso are handled with intelligence and an awareness of reality, dissipating fears of cliche or unbelievability. There are some loose ends left dangling but this could be a positive thing or an irritation depending on how much you like to formulate your own endings.

For the most part beautifully and amusingly conceived (the confrontation of the women of the family with another local mamma is particularly brilliant), a warm-hearted family drama that will keep you thinking after the final credits have rolled.

4 out of 6 stars