Italian cinema has never been incredibly embracing when it comes to telling queer stories. Certainly Pasolini, Visconti, and Zeffirelli (to name the most famous out directors) explored homoeroticism in their films in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but except for Turkish/Italian helmer Ferzan Ozpetek’s seminal work throughout his career, gay representation on the Italian screen has been virtually limited to comic caricature characters and a few male-gaze lesbian moments.
But now we have Mascarpone (Maschile Singolare), a bold and rather subversive new film where gay characters are out and proud and live their lives without any of that self-hate and Catholic guilt you’ve heard so much about (okay, maybe not without the latter but with less than the usual amount). Even Ozpetek’s gays are safe and often closeted.
First-time feature film directors Alessandro Guida and Matteo Pilati deliver a delicious, queer-empowering delight that has all the ingredients that you would expect (hot men, nudity, sex, clever dialogue, pastries, Madonna), but the filmmakers, along with co-screenwriter Giuseppe Paternò Raddusa, do a deep dive into the fears and anxieties that come with learning to love oneself in a world that rarely allows for that luxury.
Handsome and sexy Antonio (Giancarlo Commare) isn’t even 30 yet and he’s been in a serious relationship for 12 years, relying on his husband, Lorenzo, for most everything and seemingly unaware of his own worth, not to mention his yumminess. But when Lorenzo dumps him, he must learn to forge his own path, and that means figuring out who he is, alone. Along the way, he makes new and trippy friends, realizes where his true career path lies and lets himself finally give in to a healthy romantic life.
Commare commands the screen. Deft at comedy, he is also heartbreaking in the film’s serious moments. He’d be a find for an American indie seeking exciting new blood.
Awards Daily had quite the rousing and fun chat with both filmmakers and star.
Mascarpone will be released in L.A. on May 6, 2022, and on DVD/Digital on May 10, 2022.