Family – can’t live with them, can’t kill them. Unless your unexpected emergence from the closet has prompted your father to suffer a near-fatal heart attack. Such is the plight of forty-something Antonio (Alessandro Preziosi), whose revelation sends an emotional riptide coursing through his close-knit Italian brood. But it’s visiting younger brother Tommaso (Riccardo Scamarcio) who has the bigger problem – he was planning on announcing his own man-love at the very same dinner that Antonio’s confession disrupted. Now, with Antonio banished, Tommaso’s left to shoulder the floundering family business (pasta manufacturing, naturally) as the company’s sole male successor.
Which just barely scrapes the surface of director Ferzan Özpetek’s vibrant filmic cocktail, the energetic plot also tracking the exploits of a saucy older aunt, a tempestuous female friend, and all manner of domestic disquiet. Özpetek, though, is no stranger to such outlandish premises, his previous dramas having sticky-fingered numerous awards and kudos (notably, Ignorant Fairies won big at the 2001 New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival). With Cannons, he deftly twists humour and dramatic gay themes into a sumptuously-shot melange of witty banter and touching sentiment.
Italian cinema has long flirted with dicey dissections of the family unit (see also the operatic beauty of Tilda Swinton’s recent I Am Love), but here Özpetek nudges the formula into sunnier surrounds. Though the resultant near-farce at times wobbles through campy terrain (witness the arrival of Tommaso’s flamboyant friends, who struggle to put a lid on their sexuality), the film is anchored by its stellar cast – not least Ilaria Occhini as the family matriarch, whose own tragic past poetically collides with the present, most arrestingly in the film’s elegiac closing moments.
A chic, charming chuckler, Cannons proves particularly appealing as we wend our way into the winter months, offering the perfect place to soak up some warm Italian rays. 4/5
Via Out In The City