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Ferzan Ozpetek: Mine vaganti (Loose Cannons)

img  Tobias Fischer

It is the first time since ‘Hamam - Il bagno turco’ (Engl. title ‘Steam: The Turkish Bath’, 1997) and ‘Harem suaré’ (1999), that the director has not shot in Rome, where he's been living since 1976. As the background for this bittersweet comedy he chose Apulia instead, and the city of Lecce in particular, where the Cantone family owns a successful pasta company. The youngest son, Tommaso (Riccardo Scamarcio), long after moving to Rome, goes home for a few days intending to confess to his parents to being gay. But he finds himself reluctantly forced to stay longer than expected and his presence there triggers a real ‘earthquake’ with an unpredictable outcome.

Produced by Domenico Procacci and written by Ozpetek in collaboration with Ivan Cotroneo, ‘Mine vaganti’ can be seen at two levels. On a superficial level, the film's only theme is homosexuality. In Italy's still highly traditional culture, for many families the discovery of a son’s homosexuality is a real tragedy and the news can explode like a bolt from the blue, jeopardizing ties and relationships. The Cantone family is no exception and Ozpetek narrates the story by reinforcing many stereotypes about ‘Mediterranean’ Italianity. To attract and involve the audience, he turns to irony and assigns key roles to Riccardo Scamarcio and Alessandro Preziosi, two very popular (and handsome) actors, as in the past was already the case with Alessandro Gassman, Stefano Accorsi, Raoul Bova, Pierfrancesco Favino and Luca Argentero. ‘Mine vaganti’ portraits these changing relationships between the main characters through the famous Ozpetek’s ‘tables’ that many representatives of the Italian press have always criticized: all members of a family, no matter whether traditional or enlarged, eat together, talking and sharing joys and sorrows. But this time regrets, resentments, fears, dissatisfaction, jealousy, desire and envy are fermenting and getting bigger and bigger beneath the surface of the daily ritual, dominated by good manners and politeness. In this already very ‘explosive’ context our loose cannons come in. What if someone decides not to respect the ‘rules’ and speaks out what he - or she - is really thinking about?

At a deeper level, ‘Mine vaganti’ is in fact a film about individual freedom, about the courage to pursue your own dreams and be yourself. Without fear of scrutiny by others. Without sacrificing your own life. Without satisfying the expectations of others at all costs. A theme much loved by Ozpetek, already heavily involved in ‘La finestra di fronte’ (Engl. titl. ‘Facing Windows’, 2003), where the elder Simone (Massimo Girotti) ‘taught’ the young Giovanna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) what it means to live and not just to survive. An almost identical relationship is connecting the grandmother (Ilaria Occhini), a free spirit, and Tommaso, always ready to please others, here. The contrast between public and private sphere, between what can be said and what simply cannot, between what has to be made a show of and what has to be hidden is continually pointed out in the dialogues, in the distinction between open spaces (the streets, the beach, the square) and indoors (at home, the hospital, the factory) and is even more striking thanks to Maurizio Calvesi’s cinematography, so warm and full of light, that enhances colours and is sometimes almost blinding.

For the soundtrack, ‘Mine vaganti’ relies on composer Pasquale Catalano and two divas of Italian music which have attained the status of legends at home: Mina and Patty Pravo, who sing the classic ‘Pensiero stupendo’ and a brand new song, ‘Sogno’. The soundtrack also includes a ‘50 mila’ cover by Nina Zilli and songs performed by Pink Martini, Sezen Aksu, Radiodervish and Mariana Delgado.

Don't let all of this distract you from that one essential question, though: Where is the woman in her wedding dress going?

By Azzurra Camoglio

Homepage: Ferzan Ozpetek

Azzurra Camoglio is a Freelance Translator and Movie Critics living in Berlin. Follow her at Twitter and visit her blog.

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