›› Ignorant Fairies - Le Fate Ignoranti - aka His Secret Life
a captivating love triangle served with a gay twist.
From the director of the accomplished tale of gay awakening that was Hamam: The Turkish Bath, comes this equally assured work of sexual discovery.
And it is a discovery that is to change the life of Antonia forever. Then again, her seemingly perfect world has already been turned upside down upon the sudden death of her husband Massimo. Going through his belongings, she discovers a copy of the painting Le Fate Ignoranti, together with a dedication to "the seven years we've spent together." Realising that the man she loved was leading a double life, she sets out to confront the woman her husband equally shared his nights with, only to discover that the third person is none other than a man.
At first shocked, Antonia's feelings soon turn to intrigue, as she yearns to know what her husband saw in his male lover Michele and in turn his close-knit group of gay, straight and transgendered friends, in the process becoming close to them and inparticular to HIV positive Ernesto. Yet just as she encourages Ernesto to start living again, Antonia is inspired to more on, only in ways that few saw coming.
Co-written with Gianni Romoli, director Ferzan Ozpetek has once again created a multi-layered, if perhaps at times fractured work, aided by an invigorating score from Andrea Guerra and the compelling work of Stefano Accorsi as Michele, Erica Blanc as Antonia's mother Veronica, Serra Yilmaz as her namesake and Gabriel Garko as Ernesto. Yet the star of the show remains Margherita Buy who as Antonia gives a wonderfully moving, yet natural performance of a woman coming to terms with both the unexpected demise of her husband and the reality of his love for another man.
Given such, no surprise to learn that this feature is laced with a plethora of emotions, from those of loss, animosity and deception to intense feelings of attraction, love and friendship. But it is a emotional cocktail beautifully mixed, with Ozpetek delighting in showcasing the bitter enmity both parties initially feel toward each other, before realising that they have more in common that just their memories of Massimo.
That said, this work is not without drawbacks. Inparticular a cast of one too many characters who compete with each other for prominence, only for some to appear somewhat detached from the whole. On the positive side however, Ozpetek went out of his way to include preparations for the World Pride 2000 festival held in Rome and whilst the celebration itself is seen only as out-takes at the end of the film, let it not be forgotten that the event itself was staged in the face of major religious and political opposition. Only this is not a political statement but a melodrama, one that whilst not as exquisite as its predecessor, is still captivating cinema, that of a sensitive story about love, death and the will to move on. Simply wonderful.
Gay Visibility - flying the flag - literally.
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek.
Overall - file under ... 4 stars.