Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Le Fate Ignoranti

A movie full of confusion, scandalizing events, and broken hearts, Le Fate Ignoranti (2001) won awards at a number of Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals such as; ‘Best Film’ at the New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and ‘Best Film’ at the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival. Ferzan Özpetek, the director, is of Turkish descent but resides in Italy. He is an openly gay director who deals with numerous sexual issues in several of his films, including this feature film and also La finestra di fronte (2003).

This movie begins as Antonia strolls around an art gallery, anxiously awaiting her husband. A man eventually approaches her and at first seems to be a complete stranger: she blows him off. Shortly after it becomes evident that this stranger is in fact her husband Massimo, and Antonia was ignoring him because of his late arrival. This opening scene offsets the movie right away; it gives us the idea that their relationship was a bit strange, due to meeting at an art gallery and him arriving reasonably late.

In early scenes of the movie we discover a typical relationship between the two spouses, yet they seem to be a bit distant: he departs frequently for business trips and soccer games. One day when Massimo was leaving for an entire day to go watch a soccer game with his friends, he was crossing a busy road and an SMS message distracted him. While grabbing for the phone, in the midst of crossing the road, a car struck him and he was viciously whipped in the air and died on impact.

A newly developed scene arises and it seems as if a couple of weeks have passed by, due to Antonia clearing through all of Massimo’s things. While scavenging through his belongings she finds a large painting that seemed to be a present someone had given Massimo. She reaches for the painting and discovers that there was a hidden message on the back from what seemed to be a mistress of some sort. It was signed, ‘La tua fata ignorante’ (your ignorant fairy)

With Massimo deceased, Antonia is devastated to have found out that he was probably having an affair with this mystery person for who knows how long. She goes off and tries to discover this mistress and does her best with the leads she has. She stumbles upon an apartment complex and finds a group of individuals that seem to be a bit different; due to hair style and the way they dress. Antonia asks to see if she can possibly speak to a certain lady (she found out the name of the person who sent Massimo the painting) but the individuals who live there say that she is gone and isn’t coming back for a while. This seems to intrigue Antonia and she comes back frequently to see if she can possibly encounter this mistress or possibly pick up more evidence.

On her frequent visits she becomes close to all these individuals of the apartment complex because they seem to brighten her spirits. They are always together, compared to her being at her house virtually alone. It eventually becomes evident that this group of friends forms a community that involves many different categories of people; homosexuals, transsexuals, and even heterosexual immigrants. Antonia isn’t bothered at all by this because they were always very friendly and open hearted. Quickly after Antonia discovers who the mistress of her husband actually is, turns out it was actually the most kind of all the people at the apartment complex, a man by the name of Michele. Massimo was cheating on Antonia with a gay man for 7 years. This basically tore Antonia to pieces, but due to her being very close to this new group of friends, Antonia seems curious to discover what Michele and his world has to offer.

The rest of the film is an adventure to see what this Michele was all about. Antonia was frequently with this homosexual ‘mistress’ and they became very good friends, almost too close.

It was in a book store while searching for a book, a collection of poetry by Nazim Hikmet, upon finding the book, Massimo approached him and offered practically anything for it. Michele explained that he was shocked because he never met anyone that liked the same poet as himself. The scene develops with Antonia figuring out exactly what book he was talking about. She then proceeds to recite some verses by the author, that of which Massimo knew. Michele asked Antonia if she and Massimo would recite Hikmet with each other often. She told him that Massimo had no idea who Hikmet even was; the book was for her.

Another interesting scene is when Michele was upset with himself for having an affair with Massimo all these years. Antonia and Michele, both moved, experienced an emotional connection which for a moment became a romantic connection, as they leaned and in to kiss one another. Antonia was being sexual with the homosexual man that her deceased husband was having an affair with for 7 years.
These scenes tied everything together for me. It seems as if the two were actually perfect for each other. Massimo found similar qualities in Antonia and Michele so therefore it led him to having a relationship with both of them. So when Antonia and Michele actually got to know each other they quickly began liking each other more and more, probably because they are more compatible with each other than Massimo was with either of them.

I personally found this film to be a bit strange, very out there. It is a movie that needs to be viewed more than once to appreciate its true value. It’s a story of love, a strange kind of love, a love that is never truly fulfilled. I viewed Massimo as being almost a middleman in the perfect relationship; he had a relationship with two individuals that were more perfect for each other. Massimo was one that would be able to please two different people very well, but he did it in a very mysterious fashion. His actions were probably due to him not being able to connect extremely well with the two so he had to get the best of both worlds, little bits at a time. When Massimo was out of the picture an amazing chemistry developed between Antonia and Michele. Something was there that I truly believe Massimo didn’t have with either of the two.


I thought that the American trailer of the film was pretty interesting to watch due to the very sexual vibe you get from watching it. Even though the film itself wasn't very sexual.

This Italian trailer makes a lot more sense. The film itself was presented a lot better and clearly in this trailer. The different reading of the movie from watching two different trailers to me is quite interesting.


kelco411 said...

I agree with the last paragraph in this post a lot. Through trying to figure out who this person was that her dead husband was having an affair with, she realized that she didn't know much of anything about her husband. The same thing happens with Michele. He figures out things about his gay lover that he never knew until now. Both of these people figuring out things about the "middleman" connected them on a very deep level. Even though it seems a bit strange that they would connect in the ways that they did, it makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Celia said...

I really liked how in the film it showed how the peolple who all lived together were in a way family to each other. They were not a typical family; which is associated with a husband, wife, and their children. This was something Antonia was not used to, because she had been married for 15 years. The film also showed homosexuals in a different way. They are shown as having normal lives as the rest of us. They work, hang out with friends, eat, sleep,face conflicts,and have emotions. So basically this film is showing how what is the norm for one person can be totally different to another person. And also how a person cannot be judged fully from their physical apperance and/or sexuality.

Emirjona85 said...

This is true about the relationship between Antonia and Michele. Also I would like to add that this could break all the rules in the world. One love could surpass every obstacle like Michele being a homosexual and Antonia a heterosexual. Both are very different people and they tend to have at the end good chemistry. I really like the point that Ozpetek is making in the movie.

would you like a glass of sweet tea? said...

I felt like the last paragraph was the best part of this review, especially the parts about love and lack of fulfillment. There was too much emphasis put on Massimo however, since although he is an important character he is not the most important. Massimo is merely a character who in his absence brings Antonia and Michele together; there is no way the two main characters would have met if he were present throughout more of the film. I liked the bit about the compatibility between Antonia and Michele, but it should be noted that they are friends, not potential lovers (Michele is at no point described as bisexual so there is pretty much no chance that he would see Antonia as a sexually compatible individual to him). It would have been interesting for the subject of love to extend to topics of friendship and familial love instead of just sticking to the romantic aspect.

Cinepresa87 said...

The unusual relationship that forms in the film between Antonia and Michele that you mention seems to make a lot of sense. They both find personal qualities in each other that are positive and negative. Also, the director cleverly includes risks that are involved with any type of relationship that people involve themselves in. For Antonia it was Massimo’s secrets and her mother’s love affair. Massimo hid his gay love affair, lied, and lived a secret life. Michele found truths in Massimo and Antonia after Massimo’s death. Ernesto’s defect was the longing pain of a lost love and HIV associated with a homosexual relationship. These are just a few of the examples found in the movie. It seemed like each character suffered from a distinct flaw but each was accepting of one another.

Jessica said...

I agree with you that Massimo was somewhat of a middleman in fostering Antonia and Michele's relationship. There is a connection between Michele and Antonia that surpasses any sexual desires. A true connection between two individuals is rare and their sexual preferences,to me, is unimportant. Regardless of how or why they met, the viewer should focus on their rare and unique bond.

elisa6690 said...

I liked the diversity of this movie. There was nothing typical about it. Özpetek did a spectacular job of addressing uncommon topics in an entertaining yet realistic way. I really liked Antonia. I connected with her character the most, not necessarily due to any similarities we share, rather because she was so simple. She made it easy to understand who she was, and how she was feeling. She went from having an uncomplicated married life, to being immersed into an eccentric group of people (family). Confusion was inevitable, but she seems to effortlessly pull everything together in her life. Honestly, it was the solid performances from all the actors and the impeccable directing that made this movie so wonderfully different and believable!

Cool Italian Pics said...

What I liked most about this film is the way Ozpetek played with notions of perception both on the part of Antonia and Michele. Their discovery of one another presents each with a set of decisions of acceptance or rejection, negotiating where their respective lives will intersect. For Antonia, Michele's lifestyle was never something she would deeply fathom in the context of his social group. By having her become for a moment, part of Michele's family, Ozpetek breaks down separations of class and sexual orientation without being threatening to either class or orientation.

Un Amico said...

I think it was very appropriate for antonia and michele to form a relationship since they were both in love and being used by massimo. at first, michele irritated me because of his anger towards antonia. i did not feel like he had the right to be upset with her, but now i think that his anger was really misplaced. massimo hurt both of them very deeply, both antonia and michele devoted themselves entirely to him, while he was living a double life and only gave them half of who he was. he hurt them both, but they were able to heal together and i think that is a very heartwarming element to the film. it's really about people who need people coming together and helping each other.

Tani said...

Interesting movie, and I also liked the picture. One thing that I felt it was not done well was the scene with Michele and Antonia kissing on the couch. The kiss was strange but acceptable, yet the fact that both characters at some point thought they were kissing their lost partner didn't seem right. A chemistry between the two was understandable since they spent so much time with each other, but I did not see a point provided in that scene other than their connection.

Overall Ozpetek made a strong statement that homosexual people are not any different if not better than heterosexuals,but it went a little extreme on the orgy party and the disco scene. Throughout the movie all the characters appear to be inviting and friendly, including a family atmosphere. The scenes with the disco and the orgy might make people who are conservative wonder where there are limits. I do not want to be misunderstood with the term conservative since people that possess this trait are also open minded, but it makes sexual relation and intimacy seem to be just an object instead of the deepest relation that two people share with one another.

That said, I liked the movie and it was something different that opens your eyes from another person's view.

Mr Hooster said...

Films like this are created to prove some kind of point. This one obviously stands is a voice for the gay/lesbian/transgender community. I believe that the film is successful in portraying people from this community and proving them to be good caring people, but it may have gone too far. In most cases, the people who are against these individuals are the very religious and conservative type. Having a gay orgy in the middle of your film may not be the best way to prove a point to these people. If they are against gays, then they would not approve of a sex scene, men kissing, or doing things outside of marriage. It would be like throwing someone afraid of spiders into a pit full of them to cure them of their phobia. These things are best done slowly and over time. Looking at it from a more liberal point of view, I enjoyed the film but as a straight man I would prefer not to watch some of the scenes.