Saints + Sinners

  • 2004
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

Abigail Honor and Yan Vizinberg's documentary about two Catholic New Yorkers and their big fat Italian wedding would be as tedious as a home movie if the couple, Edward DeBonis and Vincent Maniscalco, weren't gay men and their nuptials not colored by the clash between their personal faith and their rejection by the mainstream church. Born in upstate New...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Abigail Honor and Yan Vizinberg's documentary about two Catholic New Yorkers and their big fat Italian wedding would be as tedious as a home movie if the couple, Edward DeBonis and Vincent Maniscalco, weren't gay men and their nuptials not colored by the clash between their personal faith and their rejection by the mainstream church. Born in upstate New York, DeBonis was an altar boy who gradually drifted away from the organized church; he came out in college, had a long relationship with another man, then married his college girlfriend. After their divorce, he moved to Manhattan's West Village and met Maniscalco, who was raised in Manhattan's Little Italy. Deeply committed to the church and his family, Maniscalco was in his twenties before he could resolve the conflict between his homosexuality and his upbringing. Under his influence DeBonis abandoned his informal "don't ask, don't tell" policy and came out to his family; he also resumed regular churchgoing. After living together for seven years, both wanted to formalize their relationship, but Maniscalco wanted more than a commitment ceremony — he wanted to participate in the sacrament of marriage. Honor and Vizinberg follow the couple as they order a cake, take dance lessons, write vows, send a wedding notice to The New York Times' Sunday "Style" section and choose music just like any other couple. They also document DeBonis and Maniscalco's futile efforts to find a priest who will marry them in a Catholic church; they eventually settle for a Catholic ceremony in an Episcopal Church, performed by Rev. Raymond Lefebvre, an ordained priest affiliated with a gay and lesbian Catholic organization called Dignity/New York. Both families are generally supportive, though as the day approaches, unresolved tensions begin surfacing. The film concludes with the reception and delivery of the Sunday paper: The DeBonis-Maniscalco announcement is there, though Lefebvre confides that he fielded a flurry of phone calls from Times staffers parsing its every detail with the same intensity that once went into determining the number of angels that could fit on a pinhead. The happy ending is gratifying — Maniscalco and DeBonis are so devoted and just plain nice that it's hard not to imagine wishing them well — but the family issues that bubble up even after the actual ceremony has begun are a bracing reminder that real life isn't a sitcom and some conflicts can't be resolved in half an hour and healed with a hug.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Abigail Honor and Yan Vizinberg's documentary about two Catholic New Yorkers and their big fat Italian wedding would be as tedious as a home movie if the couple, Edward DeBonis and Vincent Maniscalco, weren't gay men and their nuptials not colored by the c… (more)
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