A handsome, young aspiring Canadian TV show writer, Angelo, decides to move in with his cop boyfriend, Nino, whom he's known since they were kids. Upon doing so, he's faced with the challenge of how to pull off the move, without his Italian immigrant parents discovering the truth about his sexuality--even as they're trying to set him up with a nice Italian-Canadian girl.
The marketers of "Mambo Italiano" would like nothing more than to position it as a broad, sloppy, ethnic comedy-romance in the recently minted tradition of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." The hero and narrator of "Mambo Italiano" is Angelo Barberini (Luke Kirby), a sweet-faced young resident of Montreal's Italian neighborhood once mercilessly tormented by his high-school peers for his supposedly effeminate behavior. As the film opens he has grown into a full-fledged gay man, though he is still living in the home of his parents, Maria (Ginette Reno) and Gino (Paul Sorvino). Angelo finally works up the courage to move out of his parents' home and into an apartment he shares with Nino (Peter Miller), a closeted Montreal cop. The problem for Angelo and Nino: how to keep their loving relationship a secret from their volatile parents, who are still eagerly fixing them up with "nice Italian girls." Émile Gaudreault's direction is about as basic as you can get: his film consists almost entirely of close-ups, with a cut from one character to the next at the end of every line. The accents wobble from the Chico Marx delivery of Mr. Sorvino to the distinctly French-inflected line readings of some of the local actors. As Angelo, Mr. Kirby has a boyish charm, which is probably the best that can be said for this film as well. — Dave Kehr
2003-09-19 | Dave Kehr | Read the New York Times Review of Mambo Italiano