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Mambo Italiano Reviews

It's too bad that Emile Gaudreault's clever and colorful adaptation of Quebecoise playwright Steve Galluccio's very funny stage play, set in Montreal's La Petite Italie, relies on such broad and cartoonish depictions of first and second-generation Italian immigrants. Otherwise, it's a surprisingly sensitive treatment of gay identity and family pressure, sharply edited and directed with maximum pizzazz. Gino Barberini (Paul Sorvino) and his wife, Maria (Ginette Reno), both emigrated from what their son, Angelo (Luke Kirby), disparagingly refers to as a "spit of a village" in southern Italy, and in Angelo's eyes, they've brought their village along with them. Though they've lived in a large North American city for nearly 50 years, Maria and Gino cling to provincial attitudes, including the belief that nice Italian sons should live at home until the day they marry nice Italian girls. So it's amid much wailing and gnashing of teeth that 27-year-old Angelo finally moves out of his parents' house, leaving his neurotic, pill-popping older sister, Anna (Claudia Ferri), alone to deal with the day-to-day melodrama of Italian family life. And there won't be any nice Italian girl anytime soon, either: Unbeknownst to Maria and Gino, Angelo is gay. When his new apartment is robbed, Angelo is unexpectedly reunited with childhood buddy Nino Paventi (Peter Miller), who's now a cop. Nino and Angelo were once inseparable, but when other kids in school began whispering that Angelo was a "fag," Nino dropped his best friend like a hot potato. On a weekend camping trip, however, all is forgiven. Nino not only apologizes, he puts the moves on Angelo; a few weeks later, they're living together. Nino is fully supportive of Angelo's dream of one day quitting his job at a corporate travel agency and becoming a TV writer, but his support only goes so far. When Angelo tells him their deeply closeted life together leaves him feeling like a liar — to the outside world, they're straight roommates — Nino refuses to even consider coming out. And when whispers about Angelo's sexuality once again reach Nino's ears, he's not sure he's willing to risk exposure — even for love. Because the film highlights a slew of expert comedic performances, there's really no need to play so heavily on Italian stereotypes. Beneath the heavy accents, wild gesticulating, slaps to the head and garish flocked wallpaper, there's an awful lot of heart.