Mambo Italiano

Mambo Italiano


Reviewed by: David Stanners

Angelo (Luke Kirby) is a late twentysomething drifter, living with his highly strung Italian immigrant family in Montreal. A travel agent by day and dreamer by night, he nurtures idealistic hopes of becoming a TV writer.

Like all good Italian communities, the family is the backbone of everything. Maria (Ginette Reno) and Gino (Paul Sorvino), Angelo's mother and father, are immigrants from the old school of Italian virtues: respect, a close-knit family, pasta and more respect. His older sister Anna (Claudia Ferri) is pushing 30 and still lives at home.

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When Angelo decides to make a break, all hell breaks loose, but this is just the beginning of a typically domestic Italian soap opera on a typically epic scale. Worried sick about their youngest beloved, mum and dad breathe a sigh of relief when long term schoolboy chum and well respected local policeman, Nino (Peter Miller), moves in with him. Their relief is short lived, however, when they realise the pair are sharing a bit more than friendly back rubs. When Angelo eventually stumbles out of the closet, shame, indignation, lack of respect and every other old fashioned Mafioso type virtue are laid hard on the table. Maria and Gino draw the battle lines and "tutta la famiglia" goes to war.

Not long afterwards, Nino realises he is just going through a phase and returns to "normality," dating an older woman (Sophie Lorain) and leaving Angelo in a black hole. Not knowing where to turn, he volunteers to work on a gay helpline at the local radio station, but finds his unsympathetic style doesn't really cut it.

There are a few decent gags along the way, as the ubiquitous Italian melodrama unfolds in all its eccentricity. Some acute observations are whipped in by playwright and co-scriptscribe Steve Gallucio, particularly when Angelo's parents, pitted against Nino's stubbornly competitive mother (Mary Walsh), find themselves inadvertently adapting to a more enlightened way of thought.

This is all been done before and in much subtler, funnier ways. Films such as Muriel's Wedding and Rage In Placid Lake have shown Australia to be leaders in the field of camp and colourful oddball immigrant comedies. None of the actors in Mambo Italiano are natural comedians and the humour feels too forced at times, relying on the plot running out of steam and eventually double backing on itself once too often.

Reviewed on: 01 Oct 2004
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Gentle comedy about a gay scriptwriter 'coming out' to his family.
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Read more Mambo Italiano reviews:

Gary Duncan ***
Kotleta *1/2

Director: Emile Gaudreault

Writer: Steve Galluccio, Emile Gaudreault, based on the play by Steve Galluccio

Starring: Luke Kirby, Ginette Reno, Paul Sorvino, Mary Walsh, Peter Miller, Claudia Ferri, Sophie Lorain, Tim Post, Mark Camacho

Year: 2003

Runtime: 88 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada


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