This year we’ve seen superheroes take down spaceships with their bare hands, and assassins tear through a horde of henchmen with dogs and firearms, but the toughest woman by far is this Italian mother (Monica Guerritore) organising her gay son’s wedding. I swear there should be a version of this film showing her manipulation behind the scenes in a Keyser Soze like manner because that would make more sense than the plot we’re given by My Big Gay Italian Wedding. That’s not to say the narrative we have doesn’t make sense, because it does… barely. It’s just that My Big Gay Italian Wedding is not overly concerned about tying up loose ends or completing character arcs. and leaves a lot unexplained. Instead, it wishes to entertain audiences, make a little amount of LGBQTIA positive social commentary (for the most part), and create something that is emotionally satisfying, rather than intellectually. If this means that it will suddenly spring a musical number on audiences, out of nowhere, at the last minute, then so be it.
When Antonio (Cristiano Caccamo) becomes engaged, he takes his fiance Paulo (Salvatore Esposito), home to his rural Italian village to meet his parents. Although his father (Diego Abatantuono) is horrified by the prospect of his son marrying a man, Antonio’s mother insists on throwing the couple a lavish wedding. Will the wedding actually be able to go ahead despite the father’s homophobic dismay, the church’s attitude, a persistent ex-girlfriend, and a cross-dressing flatmate?
It is easy to forgive this film’s faults, because of the inescapable sensation that its heart is in the right place. Based on an off-Broadway play this is a lightweight comedy, that is structurally nowhere near as tight as it needs to be, and does draw on some outdated stereotypes in its portrayal of women and trans characters. However, it does make some poignant commentary on acceptance of equal rites in Italian society and the attitude of the Church. Ultimately that equality is key to My Big Gay Italian Wedding, and its softly, softly approach, with its sense of fun, more than make up for the flaws.
Ironically a lot of this rests on the shoulders of the older antagonistic father played by Diego Abatantuono, a relative liberal and progressive mayor of his small (and spectacularly beautiful) rural town, but with his own set prejudices that he must face and overcome. He adds the tension to this piece, and it’s as much his voyage of acceptance as the comedy of errors of planning a wedding, that the audience is part of. The younger cast (Esposito, Caccamo) do well in conveying the comedy of the situation, but lack any real dramatic matter to sink their teeth into due to the often ridiculous nature of the plot.
A light-hearted film with an obvious social message, it might not be a masterpiece but it’s enjoyable.