Homophobia is not the only obstacle to Italian same-sex weddings in Alessandro Genovesi’s latest romantic comedy, My Big Gay Italian Wedding (Puoi Baciare Lo Sposo). Based on the well-known Broadway play, the feel-good film reveals the many hurdles of a homosexual couple that wants to fully commit. Emphasis is placed not so much on the legal and social issues that endanger their marriage, but rather on the hazards of their comical adventure as they make their way to the ceremony.
Paolo (Salvatore Esposito) and Antonio (Cristiano Caccamo) are infatuated with one another and leading a fulfilling life together in Berlin. The latter finally decides to take their relationship further and proposes. Although a joyful moment, the next step is not as comfortable – the couple has to disclose this big announcement to their families. Paolo has been treated with disdain by his mother after revealing his sexual orientation, and the two are no longer in contact. On the other hand, Antonio never even came out of the closet to his parents, Roberto and Anna (Diego Abatantuono and Monica Guerritore). The two gay men set out on a journey back to their roots, along with their trusted friends, Donato (Dino Abbrescia) and Benedetta (Diana del Bufalo). When the group reaches Antonio’s hometown in rural Italy (Civita), they are welcomed with open arms by the man’s conservative family. That quickly changes once they break the news of the engagement. As their discussions progress, it becomes clear that there might not be a wedding to oppose in the end.
Genovesi’s film is a glamorous musical with a European backdrop. Reminiscent of the popular Mamma Mia!, My Big Gay Italian Wedding (Puoi Baciare Lo Sposo) has an underlying positive message. It advocates tolerance and offers a fun glimpse into the gentle, but entertaining relationship of two gay men who are trying to make it work despite their many differences. However, this is as far as its didactic role goes. The motion picture touches on issues like homophobia, discrimination and human rights, but it is mostly a light-hearted depiction. It covers mainly trivial themes and glances over heavier topics. What makes it noteworthy and endearing is its form of presentation – it is full of life, fast-paced and unpredictable.
The dialogue is quick-witted and the performances are on-point, the breathtaking rural setting makes up for any campy narrative devices. Genovesi does a good job at showcasing the power of comic relief, as well as how laughter can be used to cope with unfavourable life circumstances. Whether you enjoy a more theatrical approach or not, the film’s vaudeville charm is hard to resist and will undoubtedly keep boredom away for its entire 90-minute runtime.
A classic romantic comedy, Genovesi’s project is successful in relating to its audience and conveying the many ups and downs that even a deeply enamoured couple goes through on their journey to commitment. The supportive characters are at best caricatures, but admittedly quirky and amusing. They are not afraid of a good banter and embody common Italian stereotypes. You can find the cross-dressing bus driver, the “crazy ex-girlfriend” or the carefree vegan flat mate who goes on random rants about drugs and rabbits. All of these elements create a raw and reassuring humour that captivates the viewer and leaves them smiling all throughout the movie.
My Big Gay Italian Wedding (Puoi Baciare Lo Sposo) is a happy-go-lucky film that most of its audience will find relatable or at the very least heartwarming. It is sweet and refreshing, but does not venture far outside of the limitations of its genre. Genovesi takes a fairly common plotline and runs it through a bundle of narrative hoops, both comical and absurd. His playful humour and nonchalant approach turn this motion picture into an all-consuming experience and act as solid proof that Italy needs to make more rom-coms, especially gay-centred ones.