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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

entry arrow4:47 PM | The Detour on the Way to Happiness

Even when it is in part comic and in part melodramatic -- and does not know whether to be one or the other, a certain bitter truth ultimately emerges from the Italian film Mine Vaganti [Loose Cannons, 2010], directed by Ferzan Ozpetek from a screenplay by Ivan Cotroneo. What it has to say is nothing new, but then again, all insights about the human condition have largely been told and retold to death in the wealth of literature that we have and what really gives each one weight is the creative way by which each is told. In this case, we are given the age-old theme about how the pursuit of personal happiness must take precedence over all else, or life will not be worth living. This is bundled into the story of Tomasso, a writer who comes home ready to announce the fact that he is gay, wants to move to the big city for good to live with his lover, and will happily not take part in the family's pasta business -- even at the risk of alienating his family of conservative but quirky individuals. He runs by the plan to his older brother Antonio who has taken charge of the family business, and at the exact moment during family dinner where he plans to make the announcement, something happens that ruins everything he is prepared to do. He soon finds himself retreating to the closet instead, at least where his family is concerned, delaying his dreams of being a novelist to immerse himself, however half-heartedly, into the family business. Over all of these, his wizened grandmother, who has her own secrets to tell, watches from the sidelines and witnesses the struggles of her grandsons with knowing weariness, but she is also all too-ready to seize a particular opportunity she once lost many years before. There are other side stories involving other characters as well, but that's about it. It sounds convoluted -- but this is Italian melodrama with its requisite twists and turns. Suffice it to say that in the end, the loose ends are tied, and everyone gets their happy endings. This is a small film with haphazard ambitions, and given that consideration, it works. This is thanks in large part to a cast that tries to give an old story some gravity: there are individual moments in the film that a certain something gets conveyed with such alarming clarity, without words, just gestures and the slight changes in the movement of the eyes. In the end though, we've been told this story before, and so we end it only affirming what we already know.

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