Directors Alessandro Guida and Matteo Pilati bring us Mascarpone, a gay romantic comedy centred on seizing life’s second chances and the sometimes bumpy journeys of fresh starts. Brimming with naturalistic performances, gently humorous and sexy observations on the queer experience, and a variety of tender emotional notes, Mascarpone is one of comic highlights of the year.
Written by Giuseppe Paternò Raddusa, Matteo Pilati, and Alessandro Guida, Mascarpone centres on Antonio (Giancarlo Commare) living contently as a trophy husband. Antonio is suddenly floored by the end of his marriage, leaving him to find a new home and source of income. The fortunate arrival of newfound flatmate Denis (Eduardo Valdarnini) and a bakery owned by the handsome and charismatic Luca (Gianmarco Saurino) allows Antonio to begin to build a life on his own two feet.
Stylistically, Guida and Pilati present events with a bright and breezy approach, upbeat pop soundtrack cues and airy cinematography from Michel Franco capture the light urban Italian setting, making a fitting canvas for this warm tale. Mastering a tone of naturalistic humour and gently sensual and titillating romance helps inject Mascarpone with an effortless charm – also aided by a cast stacked full of gorgeous Italian heartthrobs,
From its opening moments we see hints of the narrative direction soon to unfold, Antonio joins a new gym where he catches the eye of the strikingly handsome Luca, yet the young stay at home husband is happily committed – a love that goes back to his high school days. As the rug is pulled from under his feet and husband Lorenzo shares that he is no longer in love with Antonio, the now single and handsome Italian must navigate the dating world for the first time. This allows the filmmakers to explore the often amusing world of gay dating in a realistic and comic manner – finding humour in awkward dating experiences and sensuality in Antonio’s newfound sexual adventures. A first date in a spa with an eager aspiring masseur and a raunchy fling with boss Luca provide some steaminess as Antonio finds his feet in the dating pool.
Much of the success of Mascarpone lies in its impressive casting and rich, naturalistic performances. Commare’s Antonio is an impressive presence, exploring his journey from naïve newbie to the dating world to a confident single man with an absorbing ease with its own subtle peaks and valleys. Support from Valdarnini as sexually liberated landlord Denis provides an amusing contrast to the initially frigid Antonio – bringing a warmth and vibrancy to the feature. The gorgeous Saurino provides a subtle depth to the role of Luca, single yet apparently happy although quietly burning a candle for Antonio.
Mascarpone hits all the right tonal notes thanks to its authentic depiction of navigating the end of a relationship, queer dating, and the discovery of one’s self as a single person again. Breezy humour, charm-filled performances and subtle emotional brushstrokes helps assert Alessandro Guida and Matteo Pilati’s feature as a triumph.