Different From Whom? / Diverso da Chi? is a wonderful Italian gay comedy, expertly mixing laughs with drama. With well-developed characters, beautiful scenery and an uplifting message, it is a fine conclusion to this year’s film festival.
Meet hunky Piero, openly gay city councilor in an unnamed northern Italian city. He runs for his party’s nomination for mayoral candidate and comes in a respectable second. But wait, the wildly popular winner falls dead from a heart attack during his acceptance speech! Guess who’s running for mayor now! Piero must deal with cynical staffers, homophobic attacks from his right-wing opponent, and a more conservative running mate. She, Piero and his equally hunky partner do eventually bond over shopping and food, but Piero starts an affair with her (to his massive confusion, since he had never been attracted to women before). The lies pile up as the two try to keep things hidden both from the public and Piero’s partner. Of course all the lies explode in the most dramatic and humorous ways possible but it all works out in the end. Piero and Remo break up but get back together, and the three of them raise Piero’s and Adele’s baby together.
There wasn’t anything terribly groundbreaking about this movie—the resolution, especially, dates at least from 1993’s The Wedding Banquet—but I believe it’s the execution that matters, and this movie had impeccable acting, writing and direction. Amidst the laughs, we were treated to dozens of political points both subtle and blatant, about prejudice, labels, idealism vs. cynicism, finding common ground, and the real meaning of family.
PS: What does “Centrist” mean in Italian politics, anyway? Adele “the Centrist Fury” opposed divorce and every second word out of her mouth was “family”. I’d hate to see what a real right-wing politician would promote!
PPS: the actress who plays Adele is a dead ringer for Claudia Christian, who played Cmdr. Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5. Until the closing credits I wasn’t even sure it wasn’t her. Hey, how do I know she doesn’t speak fluent Italian?