You May Kiss the Groom: When the Wedding Ceremony is the Only Thing that Matters

You May Kiss the Groom: When the Wedding Ceremony is the Only Thing that Matters

The new film by Alessandro Genovese You can kiss the groom, released in Italy on March 1st and a film adaptation of the international musical My Big Gay Italian Wedding, was certainly not a box office champion, but was still praised by the public, even if it didn’t quite reach expectations. It had all the “external” components to be an audience success. With its attractive cast and setting – a enchanting small village– and, above all, its main story, which deals with a hot issue, the marriage between same-sex couples, the film was supposed to be highly appealing to the public. Then there are friendship, religion, fashion trends, and obsessions and phobias. So there is something for everyone and for all tastes: fat/thin, blonde/brunette, northern/southern, progressive/conservative, city/province.

What is missing is a reflection on the various issues at hand, which end up being just barely mentioned, and in any case are taken on from only one point of view. A comedy, all in all, light-hearted. Funny? Difficult to say. A film against prejudices, according to the actors and a big part of film critics, but also with lots of clichés. The protagonists, Antonio (Cristiano Caccamo) and Paolo (Salvatore Esposito, the actor who plays Genny in Gomorra), are two young Italians who have moved to Berlin looking for affirmation. They have a stable relationship and decide to get married in Italy in order to celebrate this moment with family and friends. But Antonio's parents don’t know anything, as Antonio never was able to talk to them about his choices. Then, we head off to for Civita di Bagnoregio, a small town in the province of Viterbo, where Antonio was born and where Roberto, his father (the actor Diego Abatantuono) lives, who is also mayor of the town, with liberal political views, but anchored to 'old' principles when it comes to family matters, and Anna (the actress Monica Guerritore), the mother, the iron lady, 'open' and modern, willing to do anything to make the marriage of her child a reality.

Everything is thought out in such a way that, on one hand, there is the modern, progressive and up-to-date mentality, and on the other is that which is shown as a kind of bourgeois mentality, linked to conservative and outdated traditions and values. The latter is embodied by his father, Roberto, who initially opposes marriage, and for this reason he is thrown out of the house by his wife who reprimands him for having won based on the votes for his progressive ideas. He is a mayor ready to welcome in refugees, but who then opposes what now they “all do”, to celebrate a marriage between people of the same sex. And then we have the Franciscan friar, Francesco, played by Antonio Catania, who intervenes to resolve the problem, and who, in the name of true love, says he is willing to officiate marriage, although in a deconsecrated church . What happens at the end? It is not quite clear; it ends up in music – or rather, in musicals –, everyone dances and sings, and a blaze of notes and colors surrounds the protagonists who, once repaired every fracture, are ready to celebrate the union between Antonio and Roberto.

And they lived happily ever after?

Everything is constructed in such a way as for the public being made to think so. The implementation used is overall quite simple, at times ordinary – the representation of the categories of different clichés. The macho father who detests homosexuals, the trendy friend who closely follows fashion – in what to where and what to do – the southern mother from Naples, who does not want to admit she has a gay son, the Franciscan father for which 'love triumphs' and that is enough. But is this truly the reality? This is what we see in the picture painted by the director and by the writer Giovanni Bognetti. It is a representation of reality, one might say. Yes, all right, or maybe not, because then how many really are there who call on Enzo Miccio, the now well-known Italian wedding planner, to create a wedding? It's all to be established...

Or, on other premises, how much people could really share the words of the priest in church, on Easter Sunday, when he speaks of resurrection and the need for change, for openness. The character speaks phrases that are supposed inspired by millennia of wisdom and look like of void rhetoric, rather than by the real consciousness of their own state.It is only a partial representation of reality.. The film revolves around an important theme, also considering the attention that has accompanied the launch of the film, especially in LGBT environments, but has it managed to make people reflect? One could object, even before giving an answer to the question, that this was not the intention. But then, one could point out, that this is precisely the question. In ‘You may kiss the groom’, if there is one thing that works very well, it is the framing effect, which is when a certain vision and interpretation of reality is “encouraged”, so to speak, to the detriment of all others possible, up to the point of manipulation. Of course the film is not so pretentious. But the audience giving in the “consent to the message”, induced to surrender by an over pouring of good feelings, that yes, it is aimed at because he, Antonio, is sweet and Paolo, the other, is a good man, and the mother is so determined in her purpose as to be honored, and then the priest is also in agreement; and it's all so romantic, and beautiful, colorful and trendy. We may say that this is just a mirror which reflects an image, which is that of same-sex marriages; but we may take another mirror and the situation can be framed in another picture and maybe stand out in a totally different way. The way in which reality is presented can interfere with its interpretation. I’m not saying only that the picture has to be faithful to reality, also in moral terms. A good movie, as good cooking as well, has to be “honest”, has to tell you what main course is and what is garnish.

If the wedding ceremony becomes more important than love

‘You may kiss the groom’ tells a love story, which however, when all things are considered, seems to remain in the background. The trailer gives you hints as such, and the first scenes of the film seems to suggest it, but then the storytelling mechanism is organized in such a way that what emerges at the end is…just the affair of the wedding feast. Antonio and Paolo have to marry because ‘the law permits it’, because the mother has always dreamed of her son’s marriage, and it even doesn’t even matter with whom, as long as there is a marriage, and she can finally become the creator of the great event. The film, rather than “discussing” about civil unions – as it has emerged from the criticism and the words of the same protagonists, including actors and director – states empathically to its audience that same sex marriage as a conquest of civilization. The story plots are articulated through the resolution of the various problems in a growing climax leading towards… the grand finale! Certainly not a surprise ending. Surprisingly to me is that the grand finale is a… musical “divertissement”, a musical excitement. Well, the film director declared that he did not want to miss having at least one scene like this, as he had intended first to direct a real musical on the subject, having been inspired by Broadway's My Big Gay Italian Wedding

The narrative is more focused on the interpretation than on the story . After all, in the end, it is not clear whether or not the two young men were able to exchange vows. They literally get overwhelmed by the wedding crowd in a blaze of music and colors. People who dance, laugh and rejoice, because they have succeeded in realizing what everyone does, and that is. Yes, that is what really “happens”: The crowd takes the scene at the place of the persons, for individuals are dissolved in the mass. In the entire hubbub, nobody knows what really has happened.


In this season, You may kiss the groom holds 54th place in the classification at the box office, below other Italian films of the season like : Like a cat in the ring road, At home all is good, Blessed madness, Poor but so rich, Naples veiled, The place, The girl in the fog, The vegetable, Christmas as a chef, I stop when I want, Put the grandmother in the freezer, I'm back.

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