Based on a hit off-broadway play, My Big Gay Italian Wedding (Puoi Baciare Lo Sposo) tells the story of newly engaged same-sex Italian couple, Antonio and Paolo, as they revisit Antonio’s hometown in rural Italy to tell his conservative family about the good news (although all doesn’t go as planned).
After Antonio’s beautiful proposal to his boyfriend, Paolo, his new fiancé requests they visit Antonio’s parents in his hometown to tell them about it in person. With reservations, Antonio finally says yes and they make their way from the progressive city of Berlin to the beautiful, old and strongly traditional village of Civita. Of course the trip wouldn’t be as much fun without quirky supporting characters, so accompanying the couple is their happy-go-lucky, shop-a-holic best-friend, Benedetta, and new flat-mate Donato, who turns out to be a confused and depressed cross-dressing bus driver.
After the group are originally welcomed with open arms by Antonio’s parents, things go south once the engagement is announced. Roberto, Antonio’s father, completely rejects the idea while his wife, Anna, disappointed in her husband’s closed-mindedness, is more open, but only if the couple follow her strict conditions for the wedding. As the family falls apart over the controversial up-coming nuptials, the strain begins to take its toll on Antonio and Paolo’s relationship and it starts to look as though there might not be a wedding after all.
It makes sense that writer and director of the 2015 Italian Film Festival’s hit, What A Beautiful Surprise, Alessandro Genovesi, took on this production as he originally began his creative career in the theatre both writing and directing plays. This theatrical influence is evident within the storyline and, at some points, seems theatrically unrealistic, for example when the entire cast bursts into a vibrant song and dance routine. The film has a similar vibe to that of the hit cinematic musical, Mamma Mia!, with a colourful cast of caricatured characters, somewhat unbelievable plot-lines, and moments of musical momentum all set against a beautiful European backdrop.
Although being a light-hearted comedy, My Big Gay Italian Wedding’s main focus is addressing the serious issue of homophobia that can still be found within Italy, especially the rural and traditional parts of the country, despite same-sex marriage being fully legal. It also touches on the controversial plight of refugees, a topic that divides many European citizens.
Part of what brings out the comedic side of what is otherwise a dramatic storyline is the array of colourful supporting characters who inhabit the couple’s world, including a rich, happy-go-lucky, vegan best-friend, an emotionally unstable, stalker ex-girlfriend, and a confused, cross-dressing bus driver. These eccentrically comedic roles bring a lighter note to the film and are played with complete conviction by the supporting cast, with a special mention made of the bubbly Diana Del Bufalo who plays the dizzyingly ditzy but lovable Benedetta.
Although dramatically unrealistic in some scenes, My Big Gay Italian Wedding is a light-hearted comedy that will bring a smile to its audiences’ faces as it’s two protagonists demonstrate that love is simply love, no matter who it’s between.
My Big Gay Italian Wedding screens as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival, at Palace Nova Eastend and Prospect. Festival runs until October 14th.
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