ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Mambo Italiano comes out as a hit
By Paolo Zinatelli
Starring: Luke Kirby, Ginette Reno, Paul Sorvino,
Directed by: Emile Gaudreault
comparison has often been made that Mambo Italiano is nothing
more than an Italian remake of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
The comparison, however, would be wrong. While both movies
are about "ethnic" families dealing with an issue that seems
shocking at first, that is where the similarities end.
Mambo Italiano is about an Italian-Canadian family living in
Montreal. The parents, Gino and Maria, are immigrants from the
old country and while they have been in Canada for almost 50
years, they still retain their old world mentality. When their
son Angelo, who first disappointed his parents by declaring
he wanted to be a television writer, decides to move out of
the house - without getting married first - the parents can't
Maria is heartbroken and in tears and Gino tells his son it
would be best if he would just "go and don't look back." Their
heartache is eased somewhat when Angelo moves in with his childhood
friend and fellow Italian, Nino. This doesn't last long, however,
as another shocking secret is soon revealed.
Angelo and Nino aren't just roommates, they're also lovers.
Nino is a cop and would prefer to keep their relationship "in
the closet." However, Angelo doesn't feel the same and comes
out to his parents. The parents' reaction is as expected. Shock.
Anger. Crying. Yelling. And lots of it.
The characters in the movie are well-played, yet they are as
stereotypical as would be expected. There is the overreactive
mother who feels death would be better than having a gay son.
The father desperately scrambles for someone to blame for all
this. There is also an older sister who is unmarried, lives
at home and is in therapy trying to deal with the problems of
being in this family.
Sorvino - who you may recognize from very old Law and Order
reruns - is excellently cast as Gino. Reno plays the Italian
mother just as well. In fact, everyone plays their characters
excellently, except for Mary Walsh. As Nino's mother, she may
purport to be from Sicily, but you can still hear her Newfoundland
accent coming through, leaving you to wonder where she's really
On a side note, in going to see this movie, most theatre-goers
know what the subject matter at hand is. That's why it was so
funny and ridiculous to hear so many loud gasps when Angelo
and Nino shared an on-screen kiss.
The movie's underlying theme is that "being gay and Italian
is worse than death," a phrase used throughout the movie. It
shows the family dealing with the shock of their son's coming
out and eventually coming to terms with it. While at first the
parents come to grips with it out of spite - a bit appalling
at first - they do finally come around for the right reason:
their love for Angelo.
Mambo Italiano takes an important subject and deals with it
in a humourous way. It's a light-hearted movie that, in the
end, proves being gay and Italian isn't worse than death.