Living Life in Lecce
There is something about Italian movies which make them beautiful, even when a movie is tackling a hard subject it still ends up beautiful. Maybe it's the beautiful locations, or the stereotypes often presented, it could be the soundtracks or simply the warmth of the sun, but there is something which makes them a pleasure to watch. That brings me to "Loose Cannons" another great Italian movie which whilst dealing with the subject of homosexuality and living life your way manages to deliver drama, humour, emotion all with a sense of beauty. It may at times confuse you, it takes a while for various storylines to become clear, but by the end you will know what the movie is about and if you hadn't already you will fall in love with Italian cinema.
Having been studying in Rome, Tommaso Cantone (Riccardo Scamarcio) returns home to Lecce where for decades the family have run their pasta business and expect Tommaso to take his place in the family firm. Except Tommaso doesn't want to, he wants to become a writer and he knows when he announces to the family that he is a homosexual his father will disown him and in doing so free him of having to work in the family business. Except just as he is about to come out he is usurped by his older brother Antonio (Alessandro Preziosi) who comes out leading to their father having a heart attack and Tommaso forced to run the business and keep quiet in case another revelation kills the already embarrassed old man.
To be honest for about the first 15 minutes "Loose Cannons" is confusing, we have this woman in a wedding dress, then the Cantone Grandma looking at pictures, followed by Tommaso returning home and before we know we have had his alcoholic aunt screaming thief in the middle of the night. It feels disjointed because whilst quirky funny it is difficult to make out what is what, that is until Tommaso tells his brother Antonia that he is gay and plans to get out of having to be in the pasta business by coming out at a family meal. But as already mentioned Antonio usurps Tommaso leaving him stuck to take over the running of the business even though he doesn't want to.
What follows on from there focuses on Tommaso as he has to deal with his emotions, the frustration of being stuck unable to tell his dad the truth and the depression of being thrown into the family business. You then have him becoming close to Alba, a business colleague, who has her own secrets and wondering whether he could live a lie just to keep the peace. But then we get more, we get other family secrets, his grandma's secret and so much more as the focus of the movie becomes about living life on your terms rather than living it as others tell you.
The thing is that this message is so well delivered that it never feels heavy because we have a mix of humour, drama and emotion often combining in quite stunning ways. A scene where Tommaso is out with his father who is embarrassed that Antonio has come out is dramatic as he tries to hide his embarrassment behind laughs, it makes it funny because it is over the top yet becomes emotional as Vicenzo has a melt down. It is clever and this goes on through out this wonderful mix of emotion, drama and humour which makes us smile whilst also making us think. It's not all about depth and when Tommaso's gay friends from Rome show up and try to act straight it is typical cliche camp fun made all the more fun when you have Tommaso's father oblivious to the fact they are so obviously gay and staying in his house.
Now what is so good about this is that this blend of drama, emotion and humour is beautiful. The locations are stunning, be it in the town of Lecce or in the country or even in a house. Combine this with some great cinematography which has us moving around and in and out with people makes us feel like we are part of the scene rather than just observers. Throw on top of that the warmth of the sun and a brilliant classic Italian soundtrack and "Loose Cannons" will suck you in even if you struggle with the fact there are subtitles to read and this is one Italian movie where you do no need to follow the subtitles to understand what is going on.
What will also suck you is in the performances which are all round very good especially from Ilaria Occhini who plays the grandmother, delivering the warmth and humour of a grandmother who knows all. But it will be Riccardo Scamarcio with his stunning eyes who will command your attention although in fairness his performances as Tommaso is much more than just those eyes. The scene where he finds himself having to go into the pasta factory following Antonio's revelation are brilliant because the look of boredom he gives is so comical. Yet the scenes he shares with the beautiful Nicole Grimaudo who plays Alba are just as enjoyable, amusing in the way they grow close but also touching.
What this all boils down to is that "Loose Cannons" is another terrific movie from Italy which I know I haven't done justice to in this review. But it is a movie you need to experience to understand that wonderful blend of drama and humour which comes together to create a memorably entertaining movie which also delivers a message.