Loose Cannons -- Film Review



Gay Turkish-Italian filmmaker Ferzan Ozpetek is up to his old tricks again, and boy are these tricks old. While it has its moments, "Loose Cannons" ("Mine vaganti"), clearly meant to be a funny tale with self-help overtones about always being true to yourself despite what others want you to be, recycles every cliche of that genre, then, for good measure, piles on every cliche of the gay coming-out comedy as well.

The humor is very broad here, and the film may find some success in Italy among the self-congratulating middle-class Berlusconi voters who will pride themselves on being more tolerant than the stick-figure father of "Loose Cannons," who has a heart attack when his son announces at a big family dinner that he's queer. But the film's humor is just too thin and over-familiar to generate much interest anywhere else.

One day, Tommaso, the youngest son of a rich pasta-making family from southern Italy, tells his older brother Antonio that he's going to come clean to the family about his homosexuality, but Antonio beats him to it, confessing first. Papa Vincenzo collapses on hearing the news, pulling the tablecloth and its entire contents on top of him, a familiar visual accompaniment to heart attacks in comedies.
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Now Tommaso, who lives a secret life with his lover in Rome and who really wants to be a writer, is stuck running the factory because Antonio has been kicked out of the house by Vincenzo, who's in the hospital recuperating. Tommaso starts working with Alba, a beautiful young woman who unwisely falls in love with Tommaso, generating a wild card plot line that goes nowhere. Grandma, who didn't marry the man she really loved when she was young, finally teaches Tommaso to follow his own instincts in his search for happiness.

The biggest problem with "Loose Cannons" is that virtually every plot point or character in it has been seen before (one tiny example among many: Tommaso's desire to be a writer rather than run the family business), and everything is endlessly repeated rather than developed. The comically obtuse father never varies from his shock and outrage about his son's sexuality from beginning to end; the mother is a shrew and harshly demanding toward the servants; the horny aunt imagines lovers who come to her secretly at night; Alba comically drives too fast every time she and Tommaso go anywhere; the grandmother is wise and represents tradition (appropriate folk music is cued when she speaks); and so on.

Far worse though is Ozpetek's reliance on straight/gay, presumably humorous sexual confusions, filled with double meanings, that go back at least as far as Shakespeare. When Tommaso's band of gay friends arrives from Rome to rescue him, an elaborate ruse is concocted to disguise the fact that they are homosexual. It's a shame Ozpetek feels he has to rely so heavily for his humor on these old skits, because some of his scenes can be touching and well-acted, if rather predictable.

Venue: Berlin International Film Festival

Cast: Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo, Alessandro Preziosi, Ennio Fantastichini, Lunetta Saviano, Elena Sofia Ricci, Ilaria Occhini
Production companies: Fandango
Director: Ferzan Ozpetek
Screenwriter: Ivan Cotroneo, Ferzan Ozpetek
Producer: Domenico Procacci
Director of photography: Maurizio Calvesi
Production designer: Andrea Crisanti
Music: Pasquale Catalano
Costume designer: Alessandro Lai
Editor: Patrizio Marrone
Sales: Fandango Portobello Sales
No rating, 110 minutes
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